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Tracking residents the Hogwarts way

June 19, 2013
by Sandra Hoban, Managing Editor
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Science, not magic, is what researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) used to develop a multicamera, multi-object tracking system that can pinpoint resident location, according to an article in Popular Science.  The idea was sparked by the “Marauder’s Map” in the Harry Potter books, which could locate anyone, anywhere in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

The system works using facial recognition and color tracking to monitor a resident and can track changes in behavior, alerting care staff to a potential problem. Researchers found that a nursing home is a great testing venue because it already has multiple cameras in place, presents real obstacles and blind spots, and has residents moving about.  

In 2005, researchers tested the system by tracking 13 residents in a skilled nursing facility. They could tell if, for example, a resident was sitting longer in front of the television than usual. While this might not sound alarming, the system would notify nursing staff of a potential trend that might be easily overlooked .

“Or we’re finding they’re more agitated, or they have fewer interactions than they did previously—those are the signs of depression that would be good to know ahead of time…so they could deal with them,” CMU researcher Alexander Hauptman told WESA-FM.

With the current and predicted staffing shortages to come, this monitoring system could be a great help to nursing staff.

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