TAFETA Smart Systems for Health is a research partnership between the Bruyère Research Institute and Carleton University which identifies, develops, and tests new smart-technology solutions to help older adults live independently in a safe environment.
Why is TAFETA important?
Keeping older adults healthy and in their own homes has major benefits to society and the economy. TAFETA is important because independent living leads to greater independence and quality of life amongst seniors. At the same time, TAFETA addresses the issue of rising healthcare costs, resulting from unprecedented growth in our elderly population. TAFETA also gives researchers, developers, caregivers, industry partners, and others an opportunity to contribute to the development of innovative healthcare technologies for our aging population.
Where does research take place?
Research is conducted at the TAFETA Smart Apartment at the Elizabeth Bruyère Hospital, the Carleton University DSP lab, in the community, and at partner sites.
What is the TAFETA Smart Apartment?
The TAFETA Smart Apartment is an independent living lab, which has been used to develop and house technologies such as:
Motion sensors – track the presence and motion of the resident throughout the apartment.
Lighted pathway – illuminate the walkway from the bedroom to the bathroom to assist clients at night.
Fridge sensor – provide audible cues to patients when the fridge door is open, sending an alarm to indicate potential distress and/or food spoilage.
Pressure-sensitive mats – located under beds and chairs, these mats by Tactex Controls Inc., are integrated with custom software developed by Carleton University engineering students, which trigger additional sensors throughout the apartment through pressure. Researchers are currently developing new software algorithms to extract data from these mats in order to study breathing rates, sleep apnea, and bed entry/exit trends.
Smart flooring – dual-stiffness flooring has been shown to reduce morbidity related to falls. This flooring, by SATech Inc., is installed in the bathroom.
Who participates in the TAFETA Program of Research?
The TAFETA research program is considered multi-disciplinary. It brings together many perspectives in health care, including those from patients, caregivers, researchers, students, and both private and public partners. There are approximately 12 private and public partners involved in the program.
Who provides the direction for the TAFETA program?
The TAFETA research team is engaged in more than 12 studies to further the advancement of smart technologies that promote the independent living of older adults.
One of the team’s projects focuses on remote patient monitoring using pressure-sensitive mats and the development of a fully integrated system to monitor restlessness and respiration of palliative care patients. The pressure-sensitive mats are also being used to monitor changes in bed entry and exit patterns with the goal to develop warning systems which could help prevent hip fractures, a common occurrence amongst the elderly.
In addition, the team is exploring the development of an artificial intelligence system that will correlate information from the sensor technology throughout the home and make decisions regarding the resident’s status and physiological condition. The research will contribute to the development of a system to detect pattern abnormalities in real time and report them through a four-tier alarm system ranging from “mild abnormality” alarms to “emergency” alarms.
The team’s most recent focus has been on the use of sensors to measure and remotely monitor cognition. For example, computers games are used to facilitate the remote monitoring of cognitive improvement and/or decline, and to assess whether cognitive function can improve through game performance. Another project aims to develop a driving signature using black box data to distinguish between drivers, and to provide a foundation for future analysis of driving signature change as a predictive tool of driving abiliy.