New System of Infrared Sensors Maintains Privacy While Keeping Patients SafeJuly 6, 20202 min read
Short of cameras, there are few tools at the disposal of health care providers or loved ones to remotely monitor patient safety within hospitals and assisted living care facilities. This challenge was on Bob Karlicek's mind when he and a team of other researchers developed a new system of infrared sensors that is able to provide real-time data about a person’s movements in a room while also maintaining their privacy.
“We can thread this balance of information and privacy,” said Karlicek, the director of the Center for Lighting Enabled Systems & Applications (LESA). “It turns out that lighting and light field sensing give us a tremendously powerful tool for figuring out where people are and estimating what they are doing, but without creating an image of who they are.”
The system relies on what Karlicek calls occupant-centric control. More specifically, a set of sensors uses infrared light to measure distances between sensors and objects in order to identify where someone may be in a room. This information can help determine if a person is standing, sitting, or lying down on the floor. It can also distinguish between where people are standing and how they are interacting with other people.
Such measurements could alert a caregiver that someone has fallen or document the last time someone checked on their loved one.
The use of infrared light to measure distance is not a new concept. What’s novel about this approach, Karlicek said, is the development of a very inexpensive sensor that has data analytics built right into it, allowing the sensors to collect data, process it, and communicate with each other in order to track movement within a room.
Karlicek is available to discuss this technology and other efforts LESA is working on to make buildings more capable, efficient, and helpful to the people who use them.
Robert Karlicek Director, Center for Lighting Enabled Systems & Applications (LESA) & Professor, Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering
Develops advanced optoelectronic systems for lighting and display applications.