A revolution in caregiving through
sensor technology combined with image recognition technology & ICT
Aging societies lack enough caregivers
Society on a global scale is expected to age rapidly in the coming decades, and Japan is said to be at the forefront of this trend. In 2025, an unprecedented one-third of the population will be made up of people 65 or older.
As this societal trend progresses, the increased need for caregivers will overlap with the decline of the working-age population, causing a shortage in caregivers.
Konica Minolta took a hard look at this problem, working closely with care facilities to gather data about the challenges they faced in the field, such as caregiver staff having to rush all over the facilities, as well as behind the scenes, and to create an optimized overall system to identify serious problems.
To address these problems, Konica Minolta combined its proprietary sensor technology and image recognition systems with ICT to develop the Care Support Solution, bringing revolutionary change to how efficiently caregiving work is done through observation before responding and real-time sharing of information by staff as soon as they arrive on-site.
Sensor technology and
proprietary algorithms enable
While the system can read a resident’s behavior patterns, etc. throughout the room, day or night, it was important to develop a way that residents wouldn’t feel they were "under observation".
Activity detection sensors quickly
detect falling or stumbling.
Proprietary algorithms process activity detection through image acquisition, pose estimation, featue extraction and activity pattern analysis. In order to make estimations of how the human body moves as it wakes up, the system must be able to recognize position and posture.
Existing human detection tequniques were not applicable for when a person is lying down, so a system was designed that could recognize human under varing poses.
This system recognize human based on relatioships between body parts.
Generally, bed-related accidents occur most often when a person is attempting to leave the bed. Activity recognition of these kinds of "transitional movements" is crucial.
While there are many public data sets on activity recognition, most that specifically focus on body positions in bed have not been shared, leading to independent data being collected for this system.
Live data provided by care facilities has led to highly accurate detection, and continually increasing the supply of live sample data is further improving the accuracy of the proprietary algorithms.
A person may fall or stumble in any part of a room, so wide-angle lens cameras are used to monitor an entire room all at once without changing position, and near-infrared cameras can do the same in the dark.
Minute body motion sensors measure residents’ breathing and detect smaller body movements.
In addition to near-infrared cameras, the sensor box is also equipped with microwave sensors that can detect minute movements through blankets and other bedding.
This sensor box sends out very weak (24 GHz) microwaves, which reflect back to the sensor, measuring breathing and other minute movements.
Dual-phase data are processed, avoiding detection errors that can arise from single-phase data, and increasing accuracy. The microwave sensors can also detect the minute body movements of breathing, regardless of body position, such as lying on the stomach, side or back.
A revolution in how care is given, and
a new way to leverage information
The Care Support Solution utilizes high-accuracy detection as well as smartphones, creating a new way to leverage information and optimize the way caregivers do their work.
When the system detects a resident leaving bed or falling, the caregiving staff will be sent a notification on their smartphones, and they can pull up footage from the room with the press of a button.
Instead of a staff member rushing to a room in response to a call button going off, the staff member can check the resident’s status before physically heading over, which is a significant timesaver for caregivers.
Currently, writing reports, observations, and sharing information take up a full third of a caregiver’s time.
Until now, these reports were written up based on notes taken on-site. However, with the smartphone application, reports can be written right on the spot, recording body temperature, blood pressure and other vitals.
Caregivers are now able share this data in real time, reducing the time required for manual entry and preventing late reports and miscommunication.
Matching customer value
In the future, Konica Minolta will fuse its strength in sensor technology and image recognition with ICT to provide services based on customer value, not only in caregiving facilities, but homes, hospitals, and other environments as well, in order to help support customer needs.