In the United States, cognitive decline affects millions of people, most of them are older adults. They suffer from ageing related diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. Retirement communities require additional resources or creative solutions to respond to these residents with progressive cognitive decline.
Three mechanical engineering students at the University of Cincinnati (UC) came up with a practical solution for these wandering adults: wearable tracking devices. The project is a part of the last year senior design capstone class that all students have finished in Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS) of UC.
Design team starts with choosing which technology of the tracking device. There are pairing and location issues with WiFi and GPS, so the team decides on using radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, which can pair unique ID number in each tracking device. Then, the team purchases some RFID tags and create a wearable tag wristband by using a 3D printer. The team designs an especial lock in the wristband, which can be removed only by the staff of Maple Knoll, due to old adults who suffer from cognitive decline may forget why they wear the wristbands.
Then, the team places four RFID readers and six antennas around the exits of a building. The theory was, if they could localize the technology first, they could eventually apply it to the whole campus. Maple Knoll Village locates on a 55-acre campus, so it’s not easy to keep track of its several hundred residents.
Kaitlin Stock has experience with software engineering through her cooperative education (co-op) rotations and she wrote code that synchronized each wristband with the antennas. When one volunteer wearing a wristband walks by an antenna, the antenna recognizes the device and sends that data directly to a reader. A staff member can easily access this data from a computer. This solution can solve the security issue of wandering adults efficiently.