Look out ahead: The same powerful technology used in driverless cars is coming to home healthcare.
The pilot program will draw on lidar (light detection and ranging) light sensors, which use pulsed light to create real-time 3D scans of objects in a space. Lidar already plays a role in mapping terrain, helping self-driving cars get around, and catching speeding motorists.
Sensors placed throughout a home will continually detect and monitor a person’s movements. When combined with IBM’s Watson artificial intelligence software, it can provide a comprehensive portrayal of one’s daily habits and physical abilities.
IMB and Cera Care are hoping that once enough activity is captured by the motion-sensor technology, the artificial intelligence driving the system will generate a detailed picture of a person’s daily routine to alert caregivers about behaviors that may indicate a decline in the resident’s physical and psychological health.
Examples include a change in stride, which could be a warning sign of a stroke, or an emergency situation such as a fall (the leading cause of injury to elderly people).
The global population is aging rapidly. According to the World Health Organization the over-60 population will double by 2050, making caring for the elderly even more of a priority than it already is — and presenting a market opportunity for tech innovators.
Support from artificial intelligence can help caregivers provide oversight, without having to be physically present in the home at all times.
However, the prototype systems won’t come cheap: Lidar sensors can cost up to $1,000 each.
The technology may also raise privacy concerns for consumers who aren’t thrilled about allowing themselves to be monitored so intimately in their own homes.
The six-month pilot program will launch in June in 10 to 15 households in the U.K.