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Sensory smart home detects motor abnormalities

11 Mar 2015

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Fujitsu Laboratories recently announced a smart home technology with useful applications in the field of health and medicine. Together with Irish research institutions Casala and [email protected], Fujitsu has implemented the Kiduku research project, which offers medical and health solutions to its users. The project is geared specifically for senior citizens and persons with disability living in smart houses in Ireland.

The idea for Kiduku centres on collecting a vast array of data relating to a person's daily routine, particularly motor functions, which might suggest abnormalities in bodily functions. To do this, the project employs approximately 110 ambient sensors, some of which are embedded in smart houses and some worn by patients.

Kiduku sensors

The Kiduku project uses sensors to collect data from everyday activities.

Using sensors tackles two main issues in collecting and analysing health-related data. First, these sensors provide medical practitioners an easy way to extract significant, specific data exhibiting signs of health decline and risks, owing to the vast amounts of data or lack of it. And second, these data are highly specific to the individual, which makes it easier to draw conclusions suited to individual circumstances.

How the technology works

After the first year of implementation, the three-year project has come up with technologies that can detect abnormalities in motor function and analyse patterns among simultaneous and sequential motions.

First, the environmental, physical activity and vital signs sensors embedded in the home or worn by the individual report daily activities such as standing and walking; the sensors then quantify the characteristics of these activities. For example, a sensor worn on the leg detects walking or running motions depending on a certain baseline value, which is customised according to the wearer's average walking speed. Someone with a very slow walking speed will have a lower baseline value than someone who walks fast. This differentiation avoids misreads in data. Furthermore, the sensors quantify and cross-compare gait characteristics such as stride length, stagger and intensity.

Sensors embedded in the home itself are also useful. For example, those attached to doors can detect whether they have been opened and closed and then measure the time in between the motions.

The Kiduku project by Fujitsu

The Kiduku technology works by collecting data from everyday activities, which can be used to detect abnormalities in motor functions.

Second, the sensors can extract connections between successive events. For example, the transition from rising from a chair to walking can indicate difficulty in movements. This difficulty may also be related to temperature and other environmental factors, which may be analysed simultaneously, thanks to the sensors embedded at the home itself.

Fujitsu aims to implement the project in 2017. Currently, the company is testing the project in Ireland to expand the project's applications outside smart houses, such as family residential houses.

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