by Cees Links of GreenPeak Technologies
Everyone is talking about the latest technology buzzwords: Smart Home and the Internet of Things. By automating the environment around us, the IoT promises to make our lives safer, more convenient, as well as improve energy efficiency. In the case of Internet of Things healthcare, the IoT promises to make us happier and healthier as well. One of the most interesting healthcare-related applications is lifestyle monitoring.
Lifestyle monitoring is a relatively new term that describes a Smart Home application which uses a network of sensors in a home, connected via ZigBee wireless to a local hub, which then connects to the internet. A cloud-based intelligence receives the data and analyzes it before making decisions regarding what is happening in the home and whether or not an action needs to be instigated.
For example, the new GreenPeak Senior Lifestyle System consists of just four sensors and a gateway. One sensor is located in the bedroom, one in the kitchen, one in the bathroom and one on the front door. These sensors track the movement of a senior or disabled resident in the home, and by using ZigBee and a ZigBee gateway, transmits the information into a cloud intelligence app. Within a period of one or two weeks, the cloud intelligence app learns the “normal” behavior and activities of the household. When does the resident awaken, when does he go to the bathroom, when does he make breakfast, when does he usually leave the home and return?
Once the normal behavior pattern is learned, if there is a sudden or dramatic change in the anticipated movement, then an alert can be sent to family members or caregivers. Additionally, the system is smart enough to recognize gradual changes or adjusted trends in the senior’s lifestyle. For example, if they are getting out of bed later and later, or it is taking them longer to get to the kitchen, or if they no longer leave the house, a message can be sent to the family alerting them of this change.
Currently under testing in communities in Germany and China, this simple system can be installed for less than $80. Not only is this affordable and easy-to-use, but this system also offers several advantages. There is no pendant, necklace or watch that can be lost. As the system’s sensors use the ZigBee communication standard to connect to the local hub, the batteries inside each sensor can last for many years without having to be recharged. Since there are no cameras involved, seniors can enjoy a greater sense of privacy and comfort regarding their daily activities. Many cable TV and set top boxes are already ZigBee enabled, so these existing ZigBee networks can collect the data from the sensors and transmit it to the web.
Numerous developers are creating a wide range of other smart home apps that can work with this system; their information can be displayed and managed on the same basic cloud app. For example, a variety of blood pressure, diabetes, heart rate and other health sensing data can be transmitted from wearable sensors via ZigBee wireless to the local hub and then communicated to the cloud. The system is not limited to personal health monitoring. Fire, smoke, CO2, leakage and other ZigBee-powered sensors can also connect to the same cloud intelligence and if triggered, send an alert to the proper first responder. These same sensors can also be used to monitor motion and position for several other applications. For example, when the sensor recognizes that the resident is moving from one room into the next, it can control the lighting or can turn on or off the heating or air conditioning. Not only will the senior be more comfortable and safer (not having to find light switches in the dark), but the system can improve the efficiency of energy use in the home, reducing costs.
These same sensors – when the house is empty – can be used to trigger a security or intruder system. If the system notes movement when ordinarily there is no one home, it can then trigger a security alert and notify the proper first responders. And as all the sensors work via ultra-low power ZigBee wireless, a senior citizen does not have to be worried about having to change or recharge the batteries in the various wireless sensor devices through the home.
This kind of ZigBee-connected, web-based intelligence is revolutionizing more than just consumer and home users – it is also impacting other industries, like retail, industrial, utility, and building. The possibilities for increasing control in your home, your workplace, or any other area of your life are endless. The Lifestyle System for Internet of Things healthcare is one more step toward helping your control your world and improve comfort, convenience, and security.
Cees Links is the Founder and CEO of GreenPeak Technologies, a rapidly growing Smart Home and IoT radio communications semi-conductor company.
Under his responsibility, the first wireless LANs were developed, ultimately becoming household technology integrated into PCs and notebooks. Cees Links was involved in the establishment of the IEEE 802.11 standardization committee and the WiFi Alliance. And, he was instrumental in establishing the IEEE 802.15 standardization committee to become the basis for the ZigBee sense and control networking.
GreenPeak Technologies is a fabless semiconductor company and is a leader in IEEE 802.15.4 ZigBee silicon solutions for the Smart Home and the Internet of Things.