For the last eight years, Washington State University's (WSU) Center for Advanced Studies in Adaptive Systems (CASAS) has been developing smart home technology that harnesses machine learning to help older people live with greater independence. The hope is that CASAS' technology will help fill an expected gap in elder care as the number of Americans ages 85 and older increases dramatically over the next several decades.
CASAS' first step was to recruit 400 older volunteers and gather data about their normal, daily routines and conduct interviews to assemble baseline information correlating health and activity levels. The data led to the creation of "Smart Home in a Box," a system of nearly 30 sensors that detect movement, temperature, doors opening and closing, and other information.
Four years ago, CASAS began installing the system in the homes of older volunteers in the Seattle and Spokane, WA, areas. CASAS currently is monitoring 40 residences with the technology, and is using the data the sensors are gathering to formulate new systems. One idea is to create a system that can detect when residents forget to take their medication and remind them.
"It's a lot to take on, but it's fun to work on and it's really compelling," says WSU professor and CASAS director Diane Cook.
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