Scots team’s gadgets are real boost for elderly

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Practical gadgets to help the elderly and infirm at home have been developed by a university team using the latest technology.

They include a vibrating wristband that acts as a reminder device and a bowl that lights up when easily-lost items such as keys are placed in it.

The MultiMemoHome pro-ject, led by Glasgow University’s School of Computing Science and Edinburgh University’s School of Informatics, aims to help older and disabled people live more independent lives.

Behind the devices are “multi-modal” technologies that harness sound, vision, smell and touch to create interactive systems easily understood by those with cognitive or sensory difficulties.

Marilyn McGee-Lennon, of Glasgow University, said: “We’ve taken significant steps to developing products which easily interact with each other and are fully customisable, so users can set them up to work in ways which they can easily understand and react to.

“A fully-wired house could track a person through their day, providing reminders for medication or meals, ensuring they remember their appointments or preventing them from missing phone calls or calls at their front door.”

Twelve elderly people took part in a trial of a tablet-based system at the end of last year.

Elspeth Harte, from Bothwell, South Lanarkshire, said: “I was given a tablet and a digital pen to use for several weeks to keep track of my appointments.

“The pen let me write notes in my paper diary and they were automatically transferred to my tablet, which would give me reminders to make sure I remembered to keep my appointments.

“It was easy to use and it was a real, practical benefit to me.”

The project, which began in 2009, is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.