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Elderly to benefit from 'fuzzy logic' research

De Montfort University and Missouri University are teaming up to improve quality of life for the elderly with a computational intelligence project
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Written by Tim Ferguson on

Technology aimed at improving care and quality of life for the elderly will receive a boost with a major project looking at computational intelligence.

Leicester's De Montfort University (DMU) and the University of Missouri are linking up in a £45,000 six-month project starting this month to develop "fuzzy logic" technology.

Fuzzy logic uses computational mathematics to reach conclusions based on vague information, replicating human decision making.

Speaking to silicon.com, research fellow at DMU's Centre for Computational Intelligence (CCI) Dr Simon Coupland, described fuzzy logic as making things "to an extent grey".

The technique has already been used in a number of applications but Coupland said: "What we're really looking at now is focusing on quality of life for the elderly."

The CCI will work with the University of Missouri's Center for Eldercare and Rehabilitation Technology (Cert), which has carried out extensive research around sensor technology.

These sensors can monitor people's movements, capture sleep patterns or measure pulse and respiration, meaning they can identify medical emergencies or diagnose health problems.

Using the information gathered by the sensors, fuzzy logic will be able to distinguish between things such as the sound of someone falling over or a door slamming, therefore reducing the number of false alarms.

The technology avoids the use of cameras so as not to intrude on people's everyday lives, relying on silhouette images and audio information.

Coupland said: "One of the big things is to do this without impeding on their personal life. We've got to be careful how we use this."

Coupland will travel to the US for four months and will work with Jim Keller — a world expert in fuzzy logic — to reduce the number of false positives created by initial work.

Coupland said: "We hope to have a prototype system running by the end of the project."

But Coupland said it will probably by another five years before the technology is seen in practice, as it will need to be extensively trialled and approved.

Professor Robert John, director of the CCI, said this kind of technology will play an important role in allowing people to lead more active lives in the future, with less dependence on social care.

The project has been funded by the UK's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

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