Smart Homes Offer a Helping Hand

"Smart homes of the future will not only feature designer fabrics and furniture, they will also be filled with clever technology that takes a greater interest in your daily life - Researchers at the technology consultancy Accenture are working on ways to help homes watch what their occupants are doing.

The work is aimed at helping older people by spotting when they get into difficulties, to diagnose health problems before they become serious and to combat loneliness by making it easier to keep in touch with their family.

Eventually the projects could produce products that help almost anyone stay healthy or stay in contact with friends...

Dumb domicile
Marion Mesnage, a senior specialist at Accenture labs, said many of the technologies she and her colleagues had been working on were designed to help societies cope with their ageing populations.

You could play draughts via video By 2050, according to UN estimates, about 20% of people will be aged 60 or over. In developed nations, the figure could climb as high as 33%

Ms Mesnage said it was not just pensioners that needed help to cope.

Statistics showed that carers were two to three times more likely to need drugs to cure depression, anxiety and insomnia than any other group, she said.

To help people cope, Accenture researchers are concentrating on five main projects:

  • Persuasive mirrors
  • Connective tables
  • Shared scrap books
  • Interactive pictures
  • Activity monitoring
The persuasive mirror manipulates images of a person in real time depending on what they have been doing all day.

Ms Mesnage said it could be used to encourage people to live healthier lives by showing what would happen to their appearance if they took no exercise and did not watch what they ate.

The connective table would use video-conferencing and projectors to let people play games such as draughts or chess even though they were in different locations.

Shared scrap books would let individual family members contribute images, messages and video to a single electronic journal that anyone could look at and flick through"

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