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An Intelligent Watch for Comfort and Safety

Apartments with almost invisible sensor, control, and communication systems are to help seniors remain living independently in their own homes for longer - that's the goal of the Smart Senior Project.

A field test has now begun, in which 35 apartments of older people were outfitted with these systems for a number of months. An important part of the system is a watch developed by Siemens researchers that includes an emergency call button and control functions.

Siemens is working on the project, which is supported by Germany's Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), with partners from industry and research such as the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration (IZM).

Especially in developed nations, people are living longer and want to maintain their high quality of life, preferably within their own four walls. However, many older individuals suffer from health problems like cardiovascular disease or diabetes. The danger of falling or having a heart attack increases, and many things become more difficult due to impaired mobility.

At the same time, devices that could offer protection in an emergency are mostly rejected. Traditional emergency call bracelets stigmatize the wearer as old and fragile. A camera or microphone monitoring the apartment is seen as an attack on the individual's privacy.

As part of the Smart Senior Project, scientists at Siemens Corporate Technology have therefore developed a prototype watch that, although it looks like an everyday watch, can do a lot more. The watch communicates with the patient's home network over WLAN and has two unobtrusive emergency call buttons on the sides. The watch has an OLED color display, four buttons for navigation and operation, a vibrating alarm and a loudspeaker.

Users can control the lights in their apartment remotely or they will get an alert when leaving the apartment - for example if windows are open or the stove is on. An acceleration sensor similar to those in used smart phones works like a pedometer, tracking the activity of the wearer. The first users have given the watch positive marks for its easy-to-read display, but would like to have more functions, such as a calendar for doctor's appointments or a function that reminded them to take their medication.

They would also like a controller for the video conferencing system used in the test. The specific range of functions can be expanded using freely programmable apps.

It is easy to imagine further uses for the intelligent watch. For example, it could function as a near-to-hand assistance system that documents the workflow of care givers and supports them with information.

Dr. Norbert Aschenbrenner | Siemens InnovationNews
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