CORDIS - EU research results

Mobile monitoring and automatic fall detection device for elderly people living alone

Final Report Summary - HEBE (Mobile monitoring and automatic fall detection device for elderly people living alone)

Our modern societies are confronted to a new growing problem: the global ageing population. Within few years, almost half of the population is expected to be over 50 years old. This situation brings many associated problems, being the caring and the improvement of the quality of life of elderly one of the majors. Indeed, elderly people do need assistance in their day-to-day life, and provide them with this assistance is not a simple task.

The general social politic in our societies is to find ways to encourage elderly living longer at their own home, ensuring the necessary vigilance and security at the lower cost possible. Automatic devices to monitor and assist elderly in their Activities of daily living (ADL) seem to be a good solution to reach this objective. The objective of HEBE was to develop a new assistive device for elderly, to help them stay living longer at home, in better conditions (giving then more autonomy and safety).

Some tele-assistance systems are already available commercially. The most usual one is the tele-assistance service which requires the user to push a button to ask for help. In the case a fall causes loss of consciousness for instance, such system is unable to alert the call centre. Other solutions do include automatic fall detection, but they are limited to indoor use. The system developed in HEBE makes the difference by integrating a set of unseen functions: complete activity monitoring, outdoor user localisation via GPS, indoor and outdoor use via global wireless communication networks (GSM / GPRS). As far as identified in the state of the art, no commercial product offers such services yet. Such a complete system brings benefit to the user by allowing improvement of their quality of life without limiting their activity (non intrusive and discrete system, indoor and outdoor use, etc…).

Focusing on the technological side of the project, the main challenge has been the integration of all these functions to a small, light, user friendly, easy to use and portable system. Furthermore, bidirectional voice communication has been implemented between the call centre and the user through the mobile module. This function allows the carers in the call centre to directly communicate with the user in case of emergency, in order to coordinate and optimise the emergency means. Finally, the mobile module is equipped with a complete user interface, both by sound and visual interface.

The main result of the project is the development of a full pre-industrial system for automatic activity monitoring of elderly people. Several advanced functions have been developed to help elderly and declared by themselves and their carers as of great interest and advantage. The system consists of:
a) a mobile module the patient wears thanks to a belt at the waist, powered by rechargeable battery, and designed as small and light as possible; and
b) a call centre for doctors with the necessary services for an easy follow-up of the patient and the fall alarms.