Researchers use video analytics to help monitor elderly people who live alone

Camera algorithms are designed to recognized the act of a human being falling

Savvides’ system brings a new dimension to the concept of assisted living. He has created a whole-house monitoring system that tracks patterns of mobility for people who are living independently, but who need care. He notes, “We can use this system to ask questions like, ‘Is your mother getting out of bed today?’ ‘How much time is she spending in the bathroom or the kitchen?’ ‘Is she wandering around the house or doing the things she usually does?’ ‘Has her schedule changed?’ ”

While Culurciello’s devices primarily report on the up-and-down position changes of a fall, Savvides’ detectors report on time intervals associated with motion around a living space and deviations from the person’s usual daily pattern. This system also sends out alerts — no button push is required.

“It’s like having someone watching out for you throughout the day, without needing someone there,” says Savvides, who has set up a test of the system in a small town in his native Cyprus. He envisions use of the device as a public service to citizens in small towns or remote areas.

Savvides notes that the programming is now sophisticated enough to distinguish medical issues like a change in gait that signals an impending heart attack. “With a built-in ‘talk back,’ the device could tell the person to sit down and take medication,” he says. “It is like a personal GPS system that can give directions.”

“This new technology offers a way to provide seamless personal services without the cost and personal disruption of moving to an elder home,” says Savvides. “Elder care comes to you with smart camera devices.”