BACKGROUND: People are living longer than ever, and new technologies can help homebound senior citizens stay independent longer. For instance, home tracking and monitoring systems can help seniors operate home medical devices, or remember to take their medications, or feed their pets. And motion sensor systems can help bring peace of mind to distant relatives concerned that elderly family members might be injured or ill and unable to call for help.
THE TECHNOLOGY COACH: With the aid of new technology, the use of home medical devices is more prevalent among older adults. However, such devices are often not designed with consideration for the cognitive differences that accompany aging. Older adults typically need training to use these home medical devices, and often need assistance in their daily use. Costly errors are common. But informative feedback can improve their performance, and the Technology Coach provides it.
MEMORY MIRROR: Common daily tasks, such as taking medication or feeding the cat, can be difficult to recall performing, particularly for aging individuals whose memories can become confused. The Memory Mirror reflects the use of specified objects during a period of time (24 hours of a day). As a person uses an item, it is visually posted to the mirror and is recorded in a history log. If an item was previously used, the mirror reflects details o the previous number of usages. The Memory Mirror also warns of possibly lost items that have yet to be returned.
DIGITAL FAMILY PORTRAIT: When living dozens or hundreds of miles away it can be difficult to keep an eye out for elderly or disabled family members. The Digital Family Portrait can provide peace of mind while giving aging parents their privacy from constant phone calls checking up on them. The portrait can be hung on the concerned partyıs wall or propped up on a mantle. But, unlike a normal frame, the digital frame changes daily, providing updates on activities going on in the faraway house. Motion sensors record activity patterns, which are sent over the internet to the digital frame, which translates the information into visual clues, attempting to capture the observations that someone living next door or in the same home would make.
The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.