GCU develops LEDs for indoor tracking of people with dementia

21 January 2015

Dementia patients will be given more independence

Dementia patients will be given more independence

Researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) are investigating the development of low-cost GPS-style tracking devices to precisely monitor the movements of people with dementia who are at risk from agitation and wandering episodes.

It is predicted that the number of people aged over 65 in the UK will have nearly doubled to around 19 million by 2050. Associated with this challenge is the increasing prevalence of dementia.

New digital technologies can be used to help with the aftercare of people with dementia, allowing them to continue to live independent lifestyles and potentially reducing the financial pressure on healthcare organisations.

Local authorities and other organisations across the UK are already moving towards installing energy efficient LED-based lighting. GCU researchers aim to build on this progression by using the LED technology for wireless data communications.

Led by Dr Sinan Sinanovic, the new project will analyse the feasibility of using LEDs for precise indoor tracking of people with dementia.

This could allow hospitals, housing associations and care homes to preserve patients’ independence as much as possible and without the privacy issues associated with internal cameras.

Dr Sinanovic, who has research interests in wireless communications, will work with colleagues Professor Lynne Baillie, Dr Roberto Ramirez-Iniguez and Dr Wasiu Popoola from GCU on the project.

The project is funded by the Digital Health Institute (DHI), a Scottish Funding Council initiative to bring together health, care and third sector professionals, academics and industry partners to work together on innovative digital technologies.

The DHI will work with GCU and the North Glasgow Housing Association to set up a lab for user scenarios to test the feasibility of the tracking devices.

Dr Sinanovic said: “We are combining the ‘internet of things’ - the interconnection of objects within the existing Internet infrastructure - with the digital health investment to produce inexpensive electronic solutions to improve healthcare.”

Jeroen Blom, from the DHI Experience Lab team led by the Glasgow School of Art, said: “This project offers the opportunity to explore how an emerging technology can be utilised in the development of solutions for people with dementia through design-led collaboration involving users and experts.”