A basic package includes about a dozen motion sensors placed strategically around a house. They can provide adult children with a stunningly detailed rundown of a parent’s day.

 Adaptive Home, one of a growing number of startups that use monitoring technology to revolutionize elder care. These companies are also betting on a big market as the baby boomers enter old age.

A basic package includes about a dozen motion sensors placed strategically around a house. They can provide adult children with a stunningly detailed rundown of a parent's day.

The AgeLab at MIT uses radio frequency tags like this one to monitor, say, when people pick up a pill bottle or where they left their eyeglasses.

Across the country, research labs are coming up with all kinds of new things to monitor. At the AgeLab at MIT, Joe Coughlin is deploying the same technology NASA uses to track supplies in the space station.

"You can go on to a Web browser and find out exactly what is in Mom's kitchen, or what medication has been taken or not taken," he says.

The key is tiny radio frequency tags, which Earth-bound retailers already use for inventory. These would signal when a parent picked up, say, a particular bottle of medicine.

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