Best Buy Health and AGE-WELL are partnering with the Bruyère Research Institute and Carleton University in new research that will help older adults continue to live independently—and give their family and caregivers peace of mind.

Carleton and Bruyère researchers, with financial and technology contributions from Best Buy Health and AGE-WELL, are investigating Best Buy Health’s Assured Living in-home sensor-based smart technologies that monitor various aspects of older adults’ safety and well-being. The systems can detect changes in daily functioning and alert remote caregivers to out of the ordinary activity.

“Our objective is to enable Canadians to age in place with dignity and independence,” said Dr. Frank Knoefel, co-principal investigator and physician at Bruyère. “This technology helps caregivers identify changes in function earlier, allowing them to intervene and hence delay institutionalization. Aging in place is the preferred option, especially in the post-COVID era.”

Given the importance of sleep in the well-being of older adults, initial work has focused on bed pressure sensor mats that are placed between the mattress and box spring. Information about sleep duration and frequency of bed exits is assessed and the results can be reviewed remotely by caregivers and family members.

The next phase of research will focus on a complete home monitoring system. The research team will study how multi-room activities can help caregivers identify changes that require intervention. The team’s challenge is to convert sensor data to information about well-being that can inform care needs in real-time. Due to COVID safety considerations, research has taken place in the smart apartment at Elisabeth-Bruyère Hospital and in the homes of the researchers. Next steps will include testing the system at Carleton University and in volunteer older adults’ homes in Ottawa. The partnership represents an opportunity to leverage innovations that will ultimately support aging adults’ quality of life.

“Best Buy Health is always looking for new ways to enrich people’s lives through technology,” explains Sara Aghvami, director of Best Buy Health. “Our Assured Living system was developed with that in mind and is an ideal wellness monitoring system for this research. We are thrilled to partner with SAM3 to support practical research and solutions that positively impact Canadians in more immediate terms.”

The research is conducted as part of SAM3 (Sensors and Analytics for Monitoring Mobility and Memory). The SAM3 National Innovation Hub is a collaboration between the Bruyère Research Institute and Carleton University in partnership with the AGE-WELL Network Centres of Excellence. The project’s long-term focus is to develop technology-based solutions for aging in place in collaboration with industry, clinical and academic partners, as well as older adults and their families.

“The strength of this partnership lies in the diversity of expertise within the team and the alignment of values between the partner institutions,” said Rafik Goubran, co-principal investigator and vice-president (Research and International) at Carleton. “We are grateful to Best Buy Health, AGE-WELL and Bruyère for sharing their industry expertise, community-based insights and medical clinical expertise, creating a unique team that is well-positioned to tackle this complex issue.”

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