The smart house for older persons and persons with physical disabilities: structure, technology arrangements, and perspectives

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The Smart House for Older Persons and Persons With Physical Disabilities: Structure, Technology Arrangements, and Perspectives
Dimitar H. Stefanov, Senior Member, IEEE, Zeungnam Bien, Senior Member, IEEE, and Won-Chul Bang, Member, IEEE

Abstract—Smart houses are considered a goodalternative for the independent life of older persons and persons with disabilities. Numerous intelligent devices, embedded into the home environment, can provide the resident with both movement assistance and 24-h health monitoring. Modern home-installed systems tend to be not only physically versatile in functionality but also emotionally human-friendly, i.e., they may be able to perform their functionswithout disturbing the user and without causing him/her any pain, inconvenience, or movement restriction, instead possibly providing him/her with comfort and pleasure. Through an extensive survey, this paper analyzes the building blocks of smart houses, with particular attention paid to the health monitoring subsystem as an important component, by addressing the basic requirements of varioussensors implemented from both research and clinical perspectives. The paper will then discuss some important issues of the future development of an intelligent residential space with a human-friendly health monitoring functional system. Index Terms—Health monitoring, intelligent house, smart house, wearable sensor.



MART HOUSES include devices that have automatic functions andsystems that can be remotely controlled by the user. The primary objective of a smart house is to enhance comfort, energy saving, and security for the residents in the house. The notion of a “smart home” was first introduced in the early 1980s when the “intelligent building” concept was also used [see 1) in the Appendix]. In the concept, the intelligent implementation of consumer electronicdevices, electrical equipment, and security devices aiming for the automation of domestic tasks, easy communication, and human-friendly control, as well as safety, was proposed. In the earlier development, the idea was oriented to building a smart home environment for

ordinary nondisabled persons with the simple purpose of enhancing home comfort [1]–[5]. Recently, the same technology has become abright perspective for people with special needs. Recent statistics show a trend of rapid growth in the number of persons with physical disabilities and aged people who need external help in their everyday movement tasks [6]. The problem of caring for older persons and persons with physical disabilities will become more serious in the near future when a significant part of the increasing globalpopulation is in the 65-or-over age group, and the existing welfare model is not able to meet the increased needs. It is obvious that such a problem cannot be solved by increasing the number of care-givers. On the other hand, an optimistic view that the quality of life for the people mentioned can be significantly improved by means of various modern technologies, in particular, through intelligenthouses, is growing [7], [8]. As a manifestation of this outlook, a new term, “gerontechnology,” was introduced by Graafmans to mean a composite of gerontology and technology [9]. Two approaches are outstanding for realizing intelligent houses for the people with physical limitations. 1) Special architecture solutions adapted to the needs of the people with movement and physical limitations. Thesolutions can vary from simple barrier-free access to special village organization. 2) Particular technological innovations that facilitate the user’s independent life. The smart house for physically impaired people integrates, for example, devices for movement assistance of the inhabitant and devices for continuously monitoring his/her health status. Smart houses will have a strong, positive, and...