Some residents at the TigerPlace Aging-in-Place residences in Columbia, Missouri are taking part in a scientific experiment being conducted by researchers at the University of Missouri, who are using video game technology to monitor the residents’ health.
The living quarters of sixty-five residents have been outfitted with motion detection sensors over each doorway, high-tech sensors embedded in their mattress and a Microsoft Kinect box mounted on the ceiling to detect falls. The data collected by this equipment is analyzed to determine changes in the residents’ health and behavior patterns. For instance, if the motion detectors detect that a resident uses the bathroom an excessive number of times each night, then a nurse is called to evaluate the resident for a urinary tract problem. If restless sleep is observed, then the resident can be evaluated for anxiety or depression. If wandering off at night is observed, then the resident can be checked for early signs of alzheimer’s. The Kinect’s motion capture technology can also show researchers changes in a resident’s gait, which can help them predict and prevent trips and falls. The technology could one day be used to provide support to older adults who are aging in place.