Samsung, Deakin Uni to trial in-home AI aged care technology

Samsung and Deakin will carry out a six-week trial of The Holly Project in five residential homes in the City of Greater Geelong in Victoria to identify how AI technology can help elderly Australians live in their homes for longer.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

Samsung, in partnership with Deakin University and the City of Greater Geelong, has announced they will be trialling an in-home aged care platform that aims to help elderly Australians remain independent in their homes for longer.

The six-week trial, dubbed The Holly Project, will involve participants ranging from 73 to 81 years old, and will take place across five residential homes in the City of Greater Geelong, Victoria. Their lifestyle and habits will be tracked using the in-home care platform made of various software and small hardware-based components.

More specifically, the trial will involve the Holly Smart Home platform, developed by SP Tech Solutions, and supported by Samsung's SmartThings platform. The software component will be complemented with the Holly Hub, a small computer that will receive data from sensors within each home. The battery-powered sensors have been designed to detect motion, vibration, temperature, and humidity. Additionally, speakers will also be placed in each room to allow Holly to broadcast audio messages to communicate with participants.

According to Ian Aitken, Samsung director of engineering and solutions, the aim of Holly is to help elderly people to live in their home for longer.

"If you can imagine, if somebody who is plus-70 years in age, usually you have carers or family members to make sure those individuals are living safely," he said.

"Today the technology they have technically works but it doesn't do a very good job. There are lanyard-based systems and buttons on the wall. But you usually get into the problem where ... infrequently they fail to deliver because a lot of people forget to wear [their lanyard] or are nowhere near the button."

Aitken explained the system is similar to a "souped up" smoke alarm, where if there is no anomaly in the home Holly will not do anything, but if it detects something out of the norm it will communicate to occupants through voice. Occupants will have three opportunities to respond through gestures such as waving their arms in the air or opening and closing a door, before Holly sounds an alert to designated emergency contacts.

"The whole process of Holly is to get to a point that we know what the person is doing in that home and what a normal environment is. Once you know what normal is you can flip and know what abnormal is and take action when abnormal takes place," he said.

Dr Rajesh Vasa from Deakin University Faculty of Science, Engineering and Built Environment, added that the artificial intelligent technology behind Holly is similar to how a self-driving car operates.

"Holly's AI has similar learning patterns: There we're driving cars and avoiding obstacles, here we're trying to infer patterns and behaviour," he said. "The advantage is we know it's a house, people are living in it, and we know people are doing certain things in the house."

Following the six weeks -- the approximate time in which it takes people to get used to a new piece of technology, according to Vasa -- Holly will be switched off to understand if the participants miss Holly or not. Nurses will also be able to access a wellbeing report of each participant.

"Because if they do miss Holly we want to know what they miss about it.

"The purpose of our trial is to see if the reports are useful, if we are missing information that we should put in those reports, and in general to see technology like this given to the 65-plus demographic and what the acceptance would be," Vasa said.

"The first trial is to learn, improve, and refine the solution we have, and tune the AI engine because we need to check if it's learning the right behaviours."

Last September, Samsung outlined a series of devices that aim to position the company as the go-to smart home and Internet of Things (IoT) vendor.

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