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Researchers eye ‘smart homes’ for disabled

home-keyInnovative smart homes with motion sensors could soon help people with dementia to live safely and independently, according to the University of Bath.

Using funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, university researchers have developed a system that can monitor people’s movements in a home, automatically turns lights and appliances on and off as needed and provide voice prompts to help residents remember important tasks.

Two trial installations of the system have been operating for more than a year in care homes in London and the West Country. The research team says such systems could be commercially available within five years, enabling the 700,000 UK citizens with dementia to live on their own.

A mock-up of the system in action is on display today at the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s “Pioneers 09” event at London’s Olympia Conference Centre.

“The driver really has been to arrive at a creative engineering solution that addresses real problems faced by real people with real needs,” said lead researcher Roger Orpwood. “The key is to focus on enabling people, not on taking decisions away from them.”

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