An EU-funded project named Devices for Assisted Living (DALi) has yielded a walker that utilizes the Kinect sensor to help elderly people with cognitive impairments to sidestep obstacles. The sensor enables the mobile system to capture its spatial surroundings in real time.
The project, led by the University of Trento, aims to extend the mobility of seniors by developing a system that helps them to navigate in crowded and confusing environments, such as shopping malls and airports. Equipped with various imaging sensors, including the Kinect sensor from Microsoft's Xbox, the walker is able to identify potential obstacles and can even detect information on signs and warnings.
The engineers of the project are working on prototypes of wearable devices, such as bracelets, belts, or fingertip devices, to provide haptic feedback to the user. In addition, the system will analyze the user’s behavior and his or her response to surroundings in order to detect signs of confusion.
Siemens engineers who work on the project aim to also make use of the technology in industrial settings in order to prevent accidents in production plants. Once the system is installed on tablets, it can warn employees of approaching machines and show them the safest route through the site.
-- By Thomas Klein, Managing Editor, EMDT