Researchers at the Technische Universität München (TUM) in Germany have developed a smart entrance hall system designed to help elderly residents keep track of personal belongings, store important information and even check their blood pressure.
The prototype system consists of a tablet computer embedded into a wall panel, providing an easy-to-use touchscreen information and assistance point for the elderly. It can alert the owner if they have forgotten to take their door keys from the key holder, and keep track of other items likely to get mislaid using an indoor positioning system.
Inbuilt biosensors can also measure key health metrics like blood sugar level and blood pressure. If the sensors pick up on something critical, the system can place a call to the user’s doctor or mobile nursing service.
Crucially, the system is only activated when it’s needed. “We want people to retain as much of their independence as possible,” said professor Thomas Bock of the TUM Chair of Building Construction and Robotics. “The assistance should only kick in when people are no longer capable of doing something themselves.” The system is designed to be flexible, with users able to add extra functions as the need presents itself.
The prototype model, unveiled this week at Munich Creative Business Week, has been designed for use in a domestic hallway. However, the researchers’ long-term aim is to design units for every area of the house.
Shifts in global demographics and longer lifespans mean that care for the elderly is a fast-growing area of scientific research. Meanwhile, changing attitudes and improved health and lifestyle choices mean many ageing people are now able to remain in familiar settings for far longer than ever before, inspiring a wave of new products designed for elderly living. To see more examples of stylish, innovative design for the aged, see New Age Thinking: Design for the Elderly and Redesigning Old Age.