South Australian home care provider Enabling Confidence at Home is partnering with a smart clothing brand and the University of Adelaide on the development of a range of smart garments.

Researchers hope smart garments that measure skin temperature, breathing and even location could allow older people to live independently at home for longer.

Shem Richards

ECH Acting Chief Operating Officer Scott McMullen says the idea of smart garments is to help people live independently as they age and remain confidently in their own homes.

“When wearing the smart garments, a range of health indicators can be measured as well as individual daily activities, and at a more in-depth stage – chronic disease indicators,” he told Community Care Review.

“In short, the smart clothing can allow us to track older people’s wellbeing, in a comfortable and non-invasive way and in the long-term, enables people to stay at home through getting the right care, at the right time.

“It is also beneficial in providing reassurance and peace of mind to the client’s family and support network.”

Technology developed for infants

South Australian start-up Goldilocks originally designed a smart singlet that tracked an infant’s sleep, temperature and breathing.

Founder Shem Richards says he hopes to develop the original product to deliver more benefits to the broader community.

“The concept of the smart singlet for infants can be translated to older people,” he told Community Care Review.

“We are providing carers and support networks with confidence and reassurance in reducing the effect of preventable issues on the client.

“The hardware – clothing, sensors, Bluetooth module – is virtually identical, but the real changes are in the algorithms and the user interface.

“Because our algorithms learn the user’s daily habits, sometimes issues or concerns can be detected well before they are aware of them.”

Information from the infant’s singlet will be transfered to the current research project to support older people to remain living independently in their own home, he says.

‘Extraordinary benefits’

Mr McMullen says the potential benefits to providers are “extraordinary”.

“It is just like having a carer one-on-one with an individual client 24/7,” he said.

“Essentially, the user can wear it at all times, as it is non-invasive. But more importantly it is increasing the value of care provided.”

The University of Adelaide’s ThincLab will also be involved in the project to conduct market research to identify solutions that will form part of the build process.

ECH is currently looking for older people and carers to take part in market research for the project.

Main image: A mock up of what the smart garment could look like (Supplied by ECH)

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