SensFloor is a conductive underlay that can turn a carpet into a high-tech monitoring system. The sensor-based system can detect when people are walking and lying on it – and send out emergency alerts if they have been lying unresponsive for a long time.
Developed by German technology firm Future-Shape, SensFloor is based on a textile underlay that can be used underneath conventional carpet, laminate or PVC flooring to create a large-scale, yet discreet, monitoring system for the elderly or vulnerable.
"The floor is the best place to discover what a person is doing," says Axel Steinhage, research and development director of Future-Shape. "Except when you're sleeping, you're always in contact with this surface… It's strange that people don't use it for more sensor information input."
The system of sensors and conductive lanes works in a similar way to smartphone screens by detecting changes in the local electrical field. The sensors are connected to radio modules that communicate real-time data to the system’s controller. It can control lights and automatic doors according to a person’s proximity, and can even detect when a liquid has been spilt.
In the West, ageing populations and strained government budgets mean tools that help seniors remain independent for longer are proliferating. Early-warning systems such as SensFloor and Care Predict are part of a new market of smart care products targeting this demographic. For more, see Senior Living: A Nuanced Approach.
Future-Shape also says the flooring system could be used in a retail setting – providing valuable information on customer dwell time. For more cutting-edge retail technologies, take a look at Data Tracking, part of the Future of the Store Industry Trend.