Geelong resident Alison McArthur is taking part in the Holly Smart project.
Geelong resident Alison McArthur is taking part in the Holly Smart project.

Samsung unveils new project to monitor elderly in homes

A NEW smart home project which promises to provide elderly residents greater autonomy and security has been unveiled by Samsung Electronics Australia.

The tech giant has announced what it says is an Australian-first in-home aged care trial in partnership with Deakin University and the City of Greater Geelong, the 'Holly Smart Home Project.'

The plan involves a locally developed Holly Smart Home Project solution and core components of the Samsung Electronics home sensor and automation platform, SmartThings.

The two systems have been integrated to provide aged care households with a monitoring and machine learning system that can alert healthcare providers when abnormal activity is detected in or around the home.

Deakin University Faculty of Science, Engineering and Built Environment Executive Dean, Professor Trevor Day, said the Deakin Software and Technology Innovation Lab (DSTIL) would provide potentially life-changing opportunities for some of Australia's most vulnerable community members.

"We are absolutely thrilled to be able to provide our expert research and technological support to this project, which has the capacity to help address major challenges facing Australia's health system, while allowing elderly residents to stay independent in their own homes for longer," Professor Day said.

"We are especially pleased to work in partnership with Samsung, utilising their SmartThings home sensors and the Australian-developed Holly system, so that we can create technologies that understand the normal movements and activity inside a home.

"With this information, Holly will be able to start to identify abnormal activity and raise alerts to healthcare providers as required," Day added.

Members of the Holly project team.
Members of the Holly project team.

It is estimated that the potential cost of providing aged care to an individual within a state facility could be as high as AU$300,000.

There are only 28.7 operational home care places currently subsidised by the Australian Government per 1,000 people aged 70 years and over.

Ian Aitken, Director of Engineering and Solutions at Samsung Electronics Australia said Samsung was exceptional proud to "explore ways of applying our technology to such a meaningful and significant research program".

"We hope this pilot study will build our understanding for how connected technologies can help meet major challenges facing the lives of Australians."

"For many elderly Australians, having access to greater levels of in-home care via technology could provide re-assurance and extend the time they can spend in their own home," Aitken added.

The trial will utilise a range of in-home sensing devices that support home monitoring and automation including Samsung SmartThings multipurpose sensor to monitor temperature and vibrations and Samsung SmartThings motion sensor to track the lifestyles and habits around the home.

A team of software engineers, data scientists, PhD students, and postdoctoral staff members from the Deakin Software and Technology Innovation will collaborate and refine the Holly Smart Home project, supported by Samsung Electronics technology, SmartThings.

The trial will taking place with the support of the City of Greater Geelong to include testing across five residential households for six weeks, with participants ranging in age from 73 to 81 years old.

About The Holly Project

The following hardware has been built to support the Holly Smart Home trial ecosystem:

• Holly Hub -  this is the "brain" of the Holly Smart Home. It is a small computer that receives data from sensors within each home, and when required, triggers audio and SMS alerts.
• Samsung SmartThings motion sensor - monitors movement within the home. This device is battery powered and sends a notification to the Holly Hub when activity is detected.
• Samsung SmartThings multi purpose sensor - monitors whether doors, windows or cupboards are open or closed. The sensor is also capable of monitoring vibrations and temperature within the room in which they are located.
• LIFX Light bulbs - each light bulb can be controlled from a smart phone. This means a user can change the bulb's light colour, brightness or switch the light on or off from the convenience of their couch.
• Speakers and Chromecast - Holly broadcasts audio messages to multiple speakers within the home. To minimise cabling, Holly integrates with the latest wireless speaker technology.