Siemens has started some research for a project called “Smart Senior – Intelligent Services for Seniors” that includes work with sensors attached to the body to measure movement, heart rate, and blood-oxygen levels. Equipment in a home sends the data to a medical center, which immediately sends emergency-service people to the affected person. Siemens expects to have prototypes in mid-2011. Germany’s Research Ministry has funded the investigations. No wonder. Already 26 percent of the people in Germany are over 60 years old. In 25 years, almost a third of Germany’s people will be older than 60.
According to Siemens, the project researchers have work underway on a wrist-watch-like device that measures pulse rate, blood pressure and even acceleration. When someone faints the device can recognize the absence of micro-movements characteristic of sleep. “A radio chip in the wrist device sends all data to a communication node, which forwards the information over the Internet to a medical center. A special security architecture ensures that the data is protected along the entire transmission path, and access to the information is also stringently controlled.”
Texas Instruments already has an eZ-430 Chronos wrist-device that can measure acceleration in three dimensions as well as heart rate (with an external wireless sensor), altitude, and temperature. The Chronos device uses a TI CC430F6137 RF system on a chip and it includes a wireless transceiver so it can act like a “hub” for other wireless sensors. One of the TI demo applications for the eZ430 Chronos lets it communicate with a remote wireless USB transceiver (supplied) to control a program such as PowerPoint, so the wearer can change slides without a mouse or “clicker.” (No Spiderman net, though.)
So the eZ430-Chronos provides a ready-made “breadboard” for devices that could help older people as well as those with a disability. You can program the Chronos device with your own code. The Chronos package costs $US 49 and it comes in three versions for different wireless bands. For more information, visit: http://focus.ti.com/docs/toolsw/folders/print/ez430-chronos.html. Of course, TI also provides all the source code for the MSP430 MCU, the Windows application (to display data), development software, and documentation. Maybe you can get a head start on a new product. –Jon Titus