A team from Medical Automation Research Center of Virginia University has developed an assistive tool that analyzes the footstep patterns of seniors to detect falls and give early warning of certain diseases.
Unlike monitors that require users to wear sensors, walk on special platforms, or be video/audio taped, this device sits on the floor unobtrusively. The box contains a sensor that monitors tiny vibrations and a microprocessor that learns a person’s normal walking habits and detects changes. If the person falls, or limps or shuffles—warning signs of diseases such as osteoarthritis or Parkinson’s—the data are sent via Internet to alert a caregiver.
The device could be commercialized and placed in homes and assisted-living facilities within a year.