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MSU Technology Could Help Keep Elderly Safe in Their Homes


MSU assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering Mi Zhang holds a router.

Michigan State University researchers are exploring how home Wi-Fi systems can preserve the privacy of aging loved ones while detecting abnormal events in their homes.

Credit: Derrick Turner

Michigan State University (MSU) researchers have received a two-year, $171,600 grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation Computer and Information Science and Engineering Research Initiation Initiative program to explore whether home Wi-Fi systems can preserve the privacy of the elderly while detecting abnormal events in their homes.

"Current aging-in-place technologies are typically based on cameras, wearable devices, or sensors that are embedded inside furniture and appliances" and have fundamental limitations preventing them from being widely deployed, notes MSU professor Mi Zhang. He says the project will try to monitor activities of daily living and detect abnormal events, such as falls, using home Wi-Fi signals without instrumenting houses or requiring older adults to wear any devices.

"Wi-Fi has been known as a communication technology," Zhang says. "This project will repurpose Wi-Fi as a sensing technology."

Zhang notes the technology could be very helpful for long-term monitoring of health conditions of older adults. For example, he says if an older adult is not moving around as much as usual, it may indicate their health is deteriorating.

From MSUToday
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