North East scientists invent hi-tech gadgets to help elderly
Apr 29 2009 by Paul Loraine, The Journal
PENSIONERS are to get hi-tech gadgets to negotiate shopping centres as part of a £12m investment in innovation for the elderly.
Experts at Newcastle University are being given the cash to develop new technology to help people stay confident and independent as they get older.
The sat-nav-style gadgets could be used to help the elderly find their way around unfamiliar neighbourhoods or large stores and supermarkets.
University researchers are also working on a hi-tech kitchen that will guide people through cooking processes as they use it.
The institution is one of three in the country to be awarded the £12m investment over the course of the next five years.
One of the products being worked on is the ‘Ambient Kitchen’, which monitors a person’s progress as they cook through a series of electronic tags and sensors built into the floor, utensils, appliances, cupboards and work surfaces.
The kitchen – which looks normal – is programmed to know every step involved in preparing a series of recipes. If the person departs from the correct process, advice is projected onto one of the kitchen walls.
It is thought the technology will give people with dementia more confidence when cooking for themselves.
The scientists will work with a group of 3,000 volunteers from across the North East.
Dr Patrick Olivier, a reader in human-computer interaction, said: “I think its one of the first times that the research councils have really engaged with people at a low level.