76, who resides in The Villages, an hour northwest of Orlando, enjoys living
an independent and healthy lifestyle.
always on the go - participating in the community’s activities like dancing,
yoga and pilates.
To maintain that
lifestyle, she turned to USF to help manage her health – right in her own home.
“I live by
myself and my daughters live far away,” Carter said. “So, I wanted a system in
my home that helps me keep track of my own health and daily activity, and also
helps my family have a peace of mind.”
Lana Carter, 76, resident at The Villages
researchers in the Department of Industrial Management and Systems Engineering
at the USF College of Engineering did just that.
professors Carla VandeWeerd, PhD, and Ali Yalcin, PhD, created a home
monitoring system technology to help detect movement and activity in a home
environment – empowering older adults to become the drivers of their own
designed a system that allows older adults to manage their own health and their
daily independence in their own home,” Dr. VandeWeerd said. “The system is
nonintrusive and noninvasive with very small sensors that measure pressure,
motion, contact, temperature and luminance -- detecting how a person is moving
throughout their home and what activities they’re engaged in.”
(L to R). Dr. Yalcin, study participant Carroll Allen, and Dr. VandeWeerd go over the home sensor system and its technology capabilities.
tracks the participants’ movements 24 hours a day -- detecting how many times
they go into the kitchen to open the refrigerator, how many hours they sleep at
night and how much television they watch. It also tracks participants’ daily
activity, including when they leave and enter the house.
individual sensors installed throughout the home send the data to a small
Raspberry Pie unit, which is like a tiny laptop computer,” Dr. VandeWeerd said.
“Then, the data, which is completely secure and confidential, is transferred
and stored into a server.”
can access that data on a website with a secure login. Family members and caregivers
can also access the data with the participants’ permission.
one of 10 older adults who lives The Villages to test the home monitoring
system. And so far, she thinks the technology is the wave of the future for
older adults and their health.
Carter showcases a sensor installed in her kitchen that tracks her activity.
“I had a hip
replacement three months ago, and my daughters who live in Nevada and
California were able to see exactly what I was doing during my recovery. There
are sensors all around my house, including coffee pot, toaster, refrigerator,
bathroom, bedroom, hallways and living room. My daughters know when I’m up and
about, where I am and what I’m doing. They know my daily routine, pattern and
pilot study, researchers hope to detect health problems and concerns early to
prevent a major health setback or intervene on time when something does occur.
Dr. VandeWeerd said this could help reduce medical costs for older adults and
taken a strong health and engineering approach with this system,” Dr.
VandeWeerd said. “Our goal is to detect symptoms and track changes in behavior
early on to keep older adults healthier and happier longer in their own
communities and away from hospitals.”
said this study has not only been beneficial to older adults but also to
engineering students of all levels. “We’re using our engineering capabilities
and the latest technology to help older adults live healthier. In the meantime,
we’re also training the future generation of engineers to bridge the gap
between engineering and health to make a direct impact in people’s lives.”
“I like the
idea that my kids feel really secure, knowing that I’m on the other side of the
country,” Carter said. “This is a great non-intrusive system that makes me at
ease, makes my family and I feel more safe and connected. I’m thankful to the
USF team for bringing this technology to my home. I am very pleased with
researchers recently expanded the study. They re-opened enrollment to more
homes to continue the study and help more older adults live happier and
by Vjollca Hysenlika, USF Health Communications and Marketing
and photos by Ryan Noone, USF Communications and Marketing