One of potential signs of dementia is unusual walking patterns , yet it often goes unnoticed since no one is typically monitoring the person. Now University of South Florida researchers are using RFID (radio frequency identification) wristbands within nursing homes to keep an active eye on a bunch of geriatrics.
MIT Tech Review reports:
The researchers analyzed participants’ movements for telltale signs of cognitive decline: a tendency to wander, veer suddenly, or repeatedly pause. In a study involving 20 residents the researchers found a statistical relationship between those who showed abnormal walking patterns and those whose mental test scores indicated dementia. In the future, the USF team plans to develop software that will automatically detect these warning signs.
The USF approach relies on highly accurate RFID equipment. The ultra-wideband (UWB) chips used suffer less interference than do passive RFID chips and can send and receive signals through walls. The transmitters have a range of 600 feet and allow multiple people to be monitored even in a crowded room. The tags have batteries that last up to three years and accelerometers that put them into sleep mode when the user is motionless. According to Kearns, the entire system, including half a dozen tags, costs around $7,000 to implement.
Read on at MIT Tech Review…