Focus on Technology
2:00 pm
Wed June 25, 2014

Maple Knoll tests UC smart house for seniors

Except for a small sign the  "Innovation Collaboratory House" looks like any other villa at Maple Knoll Village. But walk inside and it's anything but.

Telehealth robots are in the sitting room and a Microsoft X-Box "Kinect" demonstration is in the bedroom. "Flo-bot" can manage congestive heart failure and do stroke intervention. "Little-bot" can ask you questions.

Other innovations:

  • Fall detection system using Microsoft X-Box "Kinect"
  • Exoskeleton technology to help the elderly with sitting and standing
  • Senors to monitor the opening and closing of things like the refrigerator and pill boxes

"Little-Bot" is designed for 2-way communication and asks the resident questions.
Credit Ann Thompson / WVXU

Debi Sampsel, DNP, chief officer of innovation and entrepreneurship at the University of Cincinnati College of Nursing, knows all about smart houses. Some years ago she created one at Wright State University. This one, at Maple Knoll Village in Springdale, is designed to showcase how seniors can stay in their homes longer.

The seniors who live at Maple Knoll get a sneak peak at the smart villa, according to the retirement community's Megan Gresham. “Every comment we heard was-when can we get started. We want the root visiting us. We’re so excited for this to be happening.”

There is a control room in the house, but the controller could be anywhere. It uses raspberry pi technology costing just $35 instead of the original controller which cost $5,000. UC graduate student Gaurav Patil worked on the rasberry pi controller. He explained privacy shouldn't be a concern.

“People don’t’ like to be watched. That’s where the Kinect comes in. It just uses an infrared camera. It doesn’t record your face or any kind of video. And then we have other motion sensors and those kind of sensors that don’t’ really record any kind of pictures or sound, they just detail the activity.”

UC students are using the Microsoft X-Box "Kinect" system to monitor falls, instead of the expensive motion detection cameras shown in this picture.
Credit Ann Thompson / WVXU

Legislation is needed to pay for this technology in homes

UC engineering professor Dan Humpert says now government and political leaders need to buy in. "We're doing the marketing piece, the educational piece. We're doing whatever it's going to take to sell this so that it can be adapted in the United States."