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UTA Smart Care Turns Household Items Into Home Care

by Jay Gormley, CBS 11
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ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) - Yvonne Myers uses a walker to walk a fine line. She’s trying to stay independent, while battling Father Time. “When I was 65, I started falling apart,” Myers said as she laughed.

The 78-year-old has undergone back surgery and has had both shoulders replaced. Myers still needs a new hip and is also dealing with heart problems.

Her 79-year-old husband, Hal, is in better shape, but has his own limitations battling Parkinson’s disease.

The Myers would love to stay in their Fort Worth apartment and avoid a nursing home. Some UT-Arlington students just may help the couple live longer, more independent lives.

The students, backed by $800,000 in federal grant money, are putting smart technology into everyday household items.

Imagine a walking cane that checks strength and mobility, or a cup that records blood pressure and heart rate just by gripping it.

These are just some of the futuristic inventions designed to turn a leisurely day at home into a routine medical check-up. “Rather than going to a doctor’s office for a physical, it allows your environment to take your physical every single day,” explained Dr. Manfred Huber from UTA’s Computer Science and Engineering Department. “If there is something unusual, it will provide that information to the doctor,” added Huber.

uta smart care1 UTA Smart Care Turns Household Items Into Home Care

Dr. Manfred Huber, UTA College of Computer Science & Engineering

The technology is called “Smart Care.” Sensors are attached to household items. In theory, the sensors collect and record medical data and then send it to a doctor or other care facilities. “Something that can watch over them and manage it will help them stay independent at home much longer and safely,” said Dr. Kathryn Daniel who works in UTA’s College of Nursing.

For instance, UTA researchers are working on a floor that analyzes a person’s balance and can even report if he or she has fallen.

Students are also developing a mirror that records a computer image of a person’s face and then analyzes the skin color to check for healthy blood circulation.

“Smart Care” is being developed through a partnership between UTA’s College of Nursing and College of Engineering. Testing the technology is scheduled for the beginning of 2013 at the Lakewood Village Senior Apartments in Fort Worth, where the Myers make their home and may some day call their personal doctor’s office. “I think it’s incredible. I think it’s great,” said Hal Myers.

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