Intel: Home sensors could monitor seniors, aid diagnosis
But privacy issues could slow implementation of any home networks
IDG News Service - Intel Corp. is making progress on a research project designed to make the "digital home" into a sensor network that could help ease the looming problem of elder care, a company researcher said yesterday at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.
In 2002, Intel announced an initiative to design a sensor network, backed by a PC's processing power, that would provide a stream of data to an elderly patient's doctors, family and friends. Eric Dishman, a social scientist leading the project at Intel, took the CES stage alongside Intel CEO Craig Barrett yesterday to outline some of the work Intel has completed.
In an interview after the keynote speech, Dishman said the company conducted research trials of the technology, which consists of a network of motion sensors that he dubbed "motes." The motes themselves are relatively inexpensive, but they produce a great deal of data that must be organized and processed by a PC, he said.
For instance, concerned sons and daughters can monitor the location within the home of an elderly parent living alone, Dishman said. The network could also be used to remind individuals suffering from memory loss to take their medicine, or help seniors stay in touch with a social network of family and friends, he said.
Intel's interest is not in developing the sensor networks themselves, but rather in creating yet another application that requires processing power, Dishman said. For instance, a forthcoming Intel technology known as VT would allow PCs to take advantage of a separate virtual environment in which to run these applications, he said. VT is expected to appear in Intel chip sets in 2006, around the same time the next version of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system, code-named Longhorn, is slated to launch with software support for virtualization technology.
Many countries around the world are grappling with rapidly aging populations of people expected to live longer than previous generations. Assisted-living facilities and nursing homes are often the only resort for the sons and daughters of older parents who need help taking care of themselves.
Intel envisions a home network that could help people who are in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease or dementia stay in their homes, Dishman said. By sharing the data with doctors and researchers, it's also possible that scientists could help diagnose problems in older patients and treat them before a disease sets in, he said.
Something as simple as monitoring the pressure and cadence of a person dialing a telephone could help signal the onset of mental problems, Dishman said. If
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