Thursday, February 01, 2007

Will Smart Homes be the Nurses of the Future?

news you may not know

Smart Homes May

Soon Pop Up...

Bags packed? Check. Passport? Check. Airline tickets? Check. OK, your long-planned trip to Norway seems to be coming together nicely.

There's just one more task you have to take care of - sit down and have a serious talk with mom's house before you leave.

Feeling a little odd, you look her house straight in the control panel and take out your list. You start with your itinerary, leaving contact phones numbers and dates. Then, you move on to the issue that concerns you the most - your mom's safety. You remind the house that mom's a little forgetful, so it will have to be sure to lock the doors at night. When visitors ring the bell, you tell the house to find your mother and show her a picture of who's at the door. Then, if your mom says it's all right, open the door for the guest.

You warn the house to be especially careful around the kitchen and at night. In the kitchen, the house is to monitor the stove and faucets. If your mom forgets to turn something off, the house is to see to it. At night, if your mom gets up, you tell the house to watch where she goes and turn on the lights as she moves from room to room.

Finally, you tell the house to wake up your mom each day by slowly opening the blinds and turning on her favorite radio station. Then, it is to play one of the daily recordings of your own voice you left for your mom.

Sound far-fetched? Researchers in England and Florida beg to differ.

The Bath Institute of Medical Engineering (BIME) at the University of Bath in England and the University of Florida (UF) are working on futuristic versions of "smart house" technology. The purpose of the technology is to allow the elderly, and those with dementia, to continue to reside at home and to avoid hospitalization or nursing home care. With the baby-boomer generation entering retirement years, the need to lessen the requirement for human caregivers is critical.

The smart-houses may be the key.

A central computer is connected to a series of monitors, switches, cameras and communication devices. As the resident of the smart-home moves about, the monitors respond by turning on lights and televisions. If the stove is left on for too long, sensors automatically turn it off. Voice prompts remind those with dementia to complete routine tasks, or to return to bed in the middle of the night. If the sensors detect unusual wandering, a motionless resident on a living room floor or other types of abnormal activity, an alert is sent to care staff who will then intervene.

Smart-home technology certainly seems to hold promise for the future. Still, it may take you a while to get used to talking with inanimate objects. You’ve certainly made no headway with your three teenage children...

To read more about smart-home technology see this from Science Daily about the BIME project and this about the University of Florida project.


Blogger sylvia c. said...

This sounds great…
By why is everything meant for the elderly?
(With all-due-respect, of course)

Discounts, Bargains, and Specials are already for the elderly!

College kids could really use this "smart house" thing, because there really isn’t a guide to being an adult (that I can find).

The ticket I received today for an expired license plate reminded me of all the duties, which simply can not be left unattended in this grown-up world, we are all forced to live in!

Cool info...thanks, Tim.

Sylvia C.

6:58 PM  
Blogger Devon Ellington said...

And when the power goes off? Does it have a back-up generator? I don't like to be that dependant on technology. I mean, half the time the computers don't work anyway, so how can we trust them to run a house and protect our elderly?

1:58 PM  
Blogger Steve, CEO PassportMD said...

A medical "smart house" is the wave of the future.. unfortunately, it may still be years away given liability restraints. If the costs are minimal for implementation and safety is demonstrated, then adoption will be quicker.

Along those lines,
as a physician and founder of PassportMD, Inc. ( ) , I remain committed to creating a free site and service so that people of any age and any economic status can participate. The free service helps people through the often-tedious process of creating a very valuable, and potentially life saving tool, the personal health record. We are committed to simplifying this process, giving people, seniors, adults, children, particularly with a history of at least one chronic medical disease, on multiple medications, or with a history of allergies access to a system that can help save their lives. Doctors need to have access to reliable information that is legible and accessible and PassportMD provides this needed function.
Medical Mistakes are common, hospital errors are responsible for over 100,000 deaths per year and these could be preventable. Information about drug interactions and cross reactivity combined with allergy alerts lead the way in being critical to every healthcare provider before initiating care. At we have created a very easy way to solicit this information from individuals and host it so that they may access it or print it off in times of need at no charge and as often as they would like.

Scenarios where this type of service makes the most sense is baby boomers that are responsible for managing their elderly parents’ medical care and doctors’ visits, or seniors that live alone or are responsible for managing their own care and visits to their doctors. Or, “snowbirds” that share many doctors between more than one state would benefit from Alternatively, children, before they go to summer camp, if they have an allergy or take chronic medications for chronic problems. Anyone with any chronic disease, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, for example would benefit from the free service. Additionally, active, healthy individuals that are pro-active with their health in preparation for unexpected and unpredictable medical problems would benefit from People that travel frequently, cruise to the islands, or boat, would be especially susceptible to medical emergencies without their accurate medical history.
The doctors are very slowly adopting electronic health records. This adoption is way too slow and is very complicated. It has many factors in play as it relates to the economics of medicine. Although privacy is considered an issue, the true issue is cost, implementation and maintanence costs to the physician practice are too burdensome in light of decreasing reimbursement. Thus, only 7.5 % of physician practices are currently adopting electronic health records. Though, if you poll the remaining 92.5% of physicians, probably all would agree that electronic health records are better for medicine and for the patient. Adoption is inevitable but the pace and time period for adoption is dependent upon many factors.

4:29 PM  

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