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Researchers build extra brainy smart homes to monitor aging adults

Maureen Schmitter-Edgecombe
Maureen Schmitter-Edgecombe

The smart homes coming out of Washington State University have a higher IQ than your average cyber-enhanced abode. Their homes can learn.

WSU’s Center for Advanced Studies in Adaptive Systems (CASAS) is developing smart home technology that harnesses machine learning in an effort to help older people live with greater independence and remain in their homes longer. » More …

Smart Home Project records movement, behavior

Maureen Schmitter-Edgecombe

If anyone ever noticed, which is unlikely, it appears that Linda Moulder and Jerry White have smoke detectors in every room of their home and a few other peculiar places—inside the refrigerator, for instance.

Visitors are much more interested in watching the cat wait for her automatic food dispenser to activate.

Yet to a cross-disciplinary team of WSU researchers, the 30 or so gadgets on the ceilings and walls are perhaps the future to helping the aging live safely and independently in their homes as long as possible. The technology that can keep tabs on mental and physical well-being could also ease the job of caregivers (often adult children who are still working and raising families), perhaps boosting their mental health and decreasing burnout.

This is critically important as the population ages and more people want to remain at home, avoiding nursing homes and other care facilities.

Learn more about this smart research by the Department of Psychology and the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Tools can help aged keep independence

Maureen Schmitter-Edgecombe
Maureen Schmitter-Edgecombe

Sometimes a simple tool to assist with putting on socks or opening jars can keep an elderly person or someone with disabilities living independently in their own home for longer.

WSU researchers are finding many people don’t know about helpful devices readily available on the market—such as medication reminders that talk, knives that rock to ease food cutting, large-grip utensils, electric door openers, money identifiers, and automatic electricity shutoffs.

That’s why students in the Department of Psychology and the College of Nursing recently made a series of informational videos highlighting common tools to assist people with everything from hearing, vision, and remembering important tasks—like taking medications—to daily duties such as cooking, dressing, and using the bathroom.

For many elderly, the discovery means freedom.

Find out more and take the survey to view several assistive technology options

How Smart Tech Will Take Care of Grandma

Maureen Schmitter-Edgecombe
Maureen Schmitter-Edgecombe

The great hope for senior care is that smart technology will help older people live independently in their homes instead of moving into assisted living centers or nursing homes. What shape will that assistance take? Out-of-the-way, non-intrusive sensors or actual robots? Some tech companies have already begun to design systems of both kinds.

WSU psychology professor Maureen Schmitter-Edgecombe and computer science professor Diane Cook have developed what they call a smart home in a box.

Read more about how smart tech will take care of Grandma
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