IBM Research using self-driving car tech to promote seniors' wellbeing

IBM Research's U.K. lab has teamed up with British home care startup Cera Care to begin testing a system combining LiDAR sensors and artificial intelligence to encourage the independence and wellbeing of senior citizens.

In June, IBM and Cera Care will launch a six-month study of the system, which uses IBM Watson AI machine learning and the LiDAR sensor technology typically used in self-driving cars to monitor the daily routines of elderly patients in their homes, providing a more accurate picture of their health to care providers.

LiDAR sensors create detailed three-dimensional scans of their surroundings, and thus will serve as the "eyes and ears" to IBM Watson's "brains." The AI will read the LiDAR scans to learn a patient's daily routine, alert caregivers to changes in physical health and emergency situations such as falls, and provide recommendations to enhance care plans.

A major hurdle facing the project will be security: Though LiDAR sensors do not recognize personal characteristics, some potential users may still see the constant monitoring inside their homes as invasive. "We need to make sure that the technologies we use are used transparently, respect people's privacy and are accepted across the care ecosystem," the developers wrote in a blog post.

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