Homes trial 'Big Brother' care system
Posted on 07 September 2012
UK scientists are due to assess a friendly Big Brother-style social care home system, designed to keep an eye on vulnerable people, older residents, and the disabled.
A trial scheme has been set up in Scotland to see how the system's sensors, microphones, digital cameras and motion detectors work in around a dozen care homes.
The pieces of technological kit are all linked to intelligent software, which enables the system to send out alarm signals if any problems arise with residents. On-call carers are then able to respond to emergency calls for support.
Behavioural changes such as skipping meals could be recorded by the system, while more serious events like falls will also be detected under its watch.
Commenting on the launch of the trial scheme, Dr Ernesto Compatangelo, who works with the University of Aberdeen spin-out company behind the technology, said: "In the past there have been issues about deprivation of privacy, spying, Big Brother etc. My message is this is a non-issue.
"The technology's absolutely not intrusive and is just the same as having a trusted human carer around all of the time.
"We know that the families and individuals involved in the field trials are extremely happy and enthusiastic about the technology."
He added: "Elderly and disabled people may have issues but also frail and vulnerable people or young adults and families with a history of violence from ex partners. There's a whole range of situations. We can very effectively customise to individual needs."
The Scottish trial will see 'Caring Aide' and 'Invisible Neighbour' versions of the system piloted, with the former scheme designed to focus specifically on the needs of older people.
Early estimates have suggested that a prototype version of the system could be launched as early as the closing stages of next year, potentially for as little as £1,000.