£12m project to up the game on home sensor data for health and wellbeing (UK)

The University of Bristol has just released news of a new interdisciplinary research collaboration (IRC) led by the university, together with the Universities of Southampton and Reading. It has been awarded a £12 million grant by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). They will work in partnership with Bristol City Council, IBM, Toshiba and Knowle West Media Centre. The IRC, known as SPHERE (Sensor Platform for HEalthcare in a Residential Environment), will develop home sensor systems to monitor the health and wellbeing of the people living at home. [So far, so 2002.]

But the press release goes on to make it clear that they do not intend to develop new sensors but to improve ways of analysing data from existing systems. “The IRC’s vision is not to develop fundamentally-new sensor technologies for individual health conditions but rather to impact all these healthcare needs simultaneously through data-fusion and pattern-recognition from a common platform of non-medical/environmental sensors at home…The system will be general-purpose, low-cost and accessible. Sensors will be entirely passive, requiring no action by the user and suitable for all patients, including the most vulnerable. An example of SPHERE’s home sensor system could be to detect an overnight stroke or mini-stroke on waking, by detecting small changes in behaviour, expression and gait. It could also monitor a patient’s compliance with their prescribed drugs.” [So far, so 2005 but perhaps the available technology these days is more up to the job. Let’s hope so.]

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