Tiny computer chips that emit unique radio-frequency IDs could be slapped on to toothbrushes, chairs and even toilet seats to monitor elderly people in their own homes.
Data harvested from the RFID chips would reassure family and care-givers that an elderly person was taking care of themselves, for example taking their medication. Unusual data patterns would provide an early warning that something was wrong.
A group of Intel researchers demonstrated the technology to US government officials in Washington DC on Tuesday. The event aimed to show how embedded wireless chips could help tackle the care problems created by the rapidly rising number of senior citizens. Such networks have already been deployed to monitor the environment and scan for empty parking spots.
“This technology could enable people to age in [their homes] with greater dignity, safety and independence,” says Eric Dishman, director of Intel’s Proactive Health programme.