MSU tech project could keep seniors safe in their homes

EAST LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – Is it possible that a home Wi-Fi router could be a valuable tool in helping protect aging people in their houses?

That’s just one of the questions that an assistant professor at Michigan State University will tackle with the help of a two-year, $171,600 grant.

Mi Zhang, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering in the MSU College of Engineering, will explore how home Wi-Fi systems can preserve the privacy of seniors while still detecting anything out of the ordinary in their homes.

The research project will try to monitor daily living activities and if something abnormal happens, like a fall, the existing home Wi-Fi signals would report the event.

The intention is to not have to set up additional technology in the house or have the older adults have to wear signaling devices.

“Wi-Fi has been known as a communication technology. This project will re-purpose Wi-Fi as a sensing technology,” Zhang said.

Zhang says the same technology could be used for long-term monitoring of health conditions.

An example would be if an older adult isn’t moving around as much as usual, that could be an indication of a health issue.

The grant comes from the NSF Computer and Information Science and Engineering Research Initiation Initiative program.

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