Demographic trends in the western world are changing. By 2035, 23% of the UK population is estimated to be aged 65 and over, compared to 18% aged under 16. This will present society with huge challenges in caring for the increasing number of elderly citizens.
A recent study of emergency home services confirms that emergency systems enable the elderly to live longer at home without the need to be moved to long-term specialist accommodation. At an annual total cost of just €340 million anyone in need of care can be provided with an emergency home service - saving billion of Euros a year in care costs.
In cooperation with Digi International, Scemtec Automation has developed ‘LOC Sens’, an innovative technology that provides automated support for people living alone with age- or handicap-related restrictions. The most important advantage of the "LOC Sens" system is that the customer does not have to actively press any emergency button or dial a telephone number. The system automatically recognises the urgency of the situation through the room sensor and immediately sends an alarm signal so that the necessary emergency services or medical staff can be contacted.
A ConnectPort X4 IP Gateway with ZigBee function provides the LOC Sens system with the radio connectivity it requires. This wireless device has been equipped with Scemtec software so that it makes intelligent alarm decisions. It maintains external contact with the emergency main station by GPRS or Ethernet, while the combi-sensors in the home are radio networked with a Digi International XBee module.
Sensors: intelligent helpers for fast identification of emergency situations
Intelligent sensor techniques – for rapid recognition of emergency situations – are now finding a place in the home. Battery-operated and radio networked, they easy to install as cabling is not required.
Mobile and safe independent living
LOC Sens offers safety and reassurance both to the occupier and anxious relatives, since immediate assistance is available automatically at all times – with the added peace of mind that the occupant is in the comfort of their own home.
The LOC Sens sensors transmit information on movement, temperature and brightness in each room of the house. Additional sensors report flooding from running water, smoke formation, the front door opening or the fridge being opened.
Current values are compared with the regular daily pattern around the house, turning on light sources, a feel-good temperature of approximately 22°C – even the opening of the fridge indicates that the occupant is not in distress.
People living alone generally have a clearly-structured daily schedule. They wake up and go to bed at regular times. This daily pattern is entered into the system as the basic routine, and acts as a reference point for the LOC Sens and Scemtec software. Only if there is a conspicuous deviation from the agreed values will be sent to the care or emergency service centre in the form of an email, SMS or another form of communication.
A single wireless, battery-operated combi-sensor is installed in each room. All data is evaluated within the home for data protection and data safety reasons. The fridge module also only informs when the fridge is not opened by an agreed time, e.g. by 3 pm, leading to the assumption that the occupant may be in trouble. However, the customer’s privacy is always protected and guaranteed. Normal movement patterns are immediately deleted if they do not lead to an alert.
Security through continuous comparison of data
Individually adjustable values – e.g. waking up between 7.00-8.30am – and the subsequent comparison with the sensors’ data allows the software to make real-time decisions. For example:
- The occupant has not woken up by X:xx
- The occupant has been in the bath for two hours – after 12 a.m.
- There has been no movement in the home for six straight hours during the day.
- The temperature has dropped below 15°C
These are just some of the possible deviations from the home-occupier’s normal daily profile. A quick telephone call to the occupant will hopefully establish that they are in good health.
The occupant can always switch off the system if they prefer. But the system is automatically activated at night as a precaution. During holidays, all warning and notifications can be deactivated by a calendar function. The system guarantees 24 hour support, 365 days a year, allowing specially trained, professional staff to receive notifications, evaluate them and take appropriate action. The first action is always the check-up call to the occupant.
The standard values are easily entered by the simple LOC Sens PC interface, but the values can also be adjusted by SMS and mobile phone.
The ‘Ravensburg – Galgenhalde’ case study – security and better quality of life at home
In January 2010, LOC started a nine month pilot project with the Liebenau Foundation and T-Systems in Germany. Their aim was to provide a mobile, safe and independent life for the elderly and house-bound.
Several test homes were equipped for this study with the LOC Sens ‘Ambient Assisted Living Solutions’. The Liebenau Foundation ensures integration of the technology in its various accommodation concepts in Ravensburg and the surrounding area so that both the elderly and handicapped people can live in their own homes for as long as possible.
“For over ten years we have been developing social care living spaces for young and old,“ explains Dr. Wolfgang Wasel, general representative of the Liebenau Foundation. “However, for the long-term it will be necessary to use technological aids. The Liebenau Foundation will be happy to participate in developing these futuristic solutions.”
The study will be critically examining the acceptance of the new technology by end customers (occupants) and adjusting it according to usage patterns. The ethical aspect, as well as data security and data protection, will be critically tested. Together with his research partners, Mr Wasel has already been positive about the LOC Sens system after the first six months.
The LOC Sens research project will be implemented around the country so that other projects will be included in the specific planning phase.
About Digi International
Digi International offers wireless M2M solutions and develops reliable products and solutions for secure connection and management of local and decentralised electronic devices by a network or the internet. Digi products offer high performance, flexibility and quality and are sold by a global network to distributors, resellers, system integrators and OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturer). You can obtain more information from the Digi website at www.digi.com
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About scemtec automation
scemtec automation GmbH was founded in 1996 in Velbert and quickly positioned itself as an innovative electronics development and software company. The creative team around the managing director and founder Martin Reich has, with the LOC Locate Solution product line, created individual solutions for building management and for the security of people and objects. Since 2000 the health and care market has been the focus of LOC developers, which has produced intelligent room, sensor and building systems for innovative outpatient and in-patient care processes. The central starting point is support for users and home-occupiers using state of the art technical solutions. This has also led to strategies to test and further develop security technology for the elderly and the handicapped. Currently 14 employees at the Velbert site and several German and European R&D partner companies are developing and producing new AAL systems solutions.