An international team of researchers postulate that the Microsoft Kinect gaming console's technology could be used to track dementia patients' movements and voice patterns noninvasively, focusing on the phase of the illness in which agitation and aggression begin to cause problems. To that end, the team is working to develop tools that could enable secure monitoring and assessment, allowing those in the early stages of the disease or who are relatively symptom-free to carry on with independent assisted living (IAL) without risk of harming themselves or others. Currently, agitation and aggression monitoring involves close supervision, often including a video camera to monitor behavior, thereby intruding on privacy.
The research team, hailing from Birmingham City University (Birmingham, England), Bangor University (Bangor, North Wales), the University of Warwick's Warwick Medical School (Coventry, England), Technical University of Catalonia (Barcelona, Spain), and the Fukuoka Institute of Technology (Fukuoka, Japan) and led by Philip Moore, Dr. Eng. MCIOB, of Birmingham City University, found that the Microsoft Kinect system, which uses infrared (IR) light to create a depth image that produces data in the form of a silhouette, could noninvasively monitor a patient's movements and voice patterns. The technology in Kinect, known as gesture recognition, could distinguish between everyday movements and sounds and uncharacteristic violent movements or shouting. And because it produces a silhouette rather than video or photograph, it could ease patients' worries about invasion of privacy.
The researchers are currently working to develop a gesture recognition-based software and noninvasive sensor technology solution that can be implemented in mobile systems.