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Wireless Network Detects Falls

University of Utah electrical engineers have developed a network
of wireless sensors that can detect a person falling. This monitoring
technology could be linked to a service that would call emergency help for the
elderly without requiring them to wear monitoring devices. For people age 65
and older, falling is a leading cause of injury and death. Most fall-detection
devices monitor a person's posture or require a person to push a button to call
for help. However, these devices must be worn at all times. A 2008 study showed
80 percent of elderly adults who owned call buttons didn't use the device when
they had a serious fall, largely because they hadn't worn it at the time of the
fall. University of Utah electrical engineers Brad Mager and Neal Patwari have
constructed a fall-detection system using a two-level array of radio-frequency
sensors placed around the perimeter of a room at two heights that correspond to
someone standing or lying down. These sensors are similar to those used in home
wireless networks. As each sensor in the array transmits to another, anyone
standing — or falling — inside the network alters the path of signals sent
between each pair of sensors. "The idea of 'aging-in-place,' in which
someone can avoid moving to a nursing home and live in their own home, is
growing," says Patwari, senior author of the study and Associate Professor
of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Utah.
"Ideally, the environment itself would be able to detect a fall and send
an alert to a caregiver. What's remarkable about our system is that a person
doesn't need to remember to wear a device."

Source/more: EurekAlert

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