According to the United Nations, the number of people aged 60 years or older is projected to grow by 56 percent by 2030. To help improve eldercare resulting from this rapidly growing demographic, IBM has opened a new “Aging in Place” environment in its Research Lab in Austin designed to mimic the types of interactions elders have in their homes.
Let me introduce you to our new IBM ThinkLab:
Our goal is to help the world’s aging population live in their own homes longer by creating smart homes and environments that use sensors, Internet of Things (IoT) technology, robotic assistants and more. We are researching how data from atmospheric, motion & falling, audio and olfactory sensors could be used to improve health and wellness as physical or environmental conditions change.
IBM and Rice University have collaborated to create a prototype Multi-Purpose Eldercare Robot Assistant (IBM MERA), a first of a kind Watson-enabled application designed to aid the elderly and assist caregivers with real-time information about their health. IBM MERA is designed to help measure an individual’s heart rate, heart rate variability and respiratory rate; engage an individual to answer basic health-related questions; and, determine if an individual has fallen by reading the results of an accelerometer.
We are also working to study how homes instrumented with sensors and the Internet of Things can help identify changes in physical conditions or anomalies in environmental readings. Certain changes can alert caregivers if someone needs immediate attention. The lab is equipped with a bedroom, kitchen and living room so we can recreate daily activities of elders. Watch videos of projects we have underway with the City of Bolazano in Italy and Sole Cooperativa.
IBM is committed to addressing the challenges of our aging population and working with university and business partners to create solutions that extend someone’s independence and enrich their quality of life. In this photo, I’m holding a Baby Abuelita Doll that helps demonstrate how Cognitive Eldercare, a network of connected devices, sensors and cognitive systems, can proactively monitor the health and well-being of the world’s aging population.