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Open AccessArticle

Assessing the Feasibility of Augmenting Fall Detection Systems by Relying on UWB-Based Position Tracking and a Home Robot

1
Department of Electrical, Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering, Politecnico di Torino, 10129 Torino TO, Italy
2
Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02129, USA
3
Institute for Information Systems and Networking, University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland, 6928 Manno, Switzerland
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Sensors 2020, 20(18), 5361; https://doi.org/10.3390/s20185361
Received: 13 July 2020 / Revised: 7 August 2020 / Accepted: 19 August 2020 / Published: 18 September 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sensors in Indoor Positioning Systems)
Falls in the home environment are a primary cause of injury in older adults. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year, one in four adults 65 years of age and older reports experiencing a fall. A variety of different technologies have been proposed to detect fall events. However, the need to detect all fall instances (i.e., to avoid false negatives) has led to the development of systems marked by high sensitivity and hence a significant number of false alarms. The occurrence of false alarms causes frequent and unnecessary calls to emergency response centers, which are critical resources that should be utilized only when necessary. Besides, false alarms decrease the level of confidence of end-users in the fall detection system with a negative impact on their compliance with using the system (e.g., wearing the sensor enabling the detection of fall events). Herein, we present a novel approach aimed to augment traditional fall detection systems that rely on wearable sensors and fall detection algorithms. The proposed approach utilizes a UWB-based tracking system and a home robot. When the fall detection system generates an alarm, the alarm is relayed to a base station that utilizes a UWB-based tracking system to identify where the older adult and the robot are so as to enable navigating the environment using the robot and reaching the older adult to check if he/she experienced a fall. This approach prevents unnecessary calls to emergency response centers while enabling a tele-presence using the robot when appropriate. In this paper, we report the results of a novel fall detection algorithm, the characteristics of the alarm notification system, and the accuracy of the UWB-based tracking system that we implemented. The fall detection algorithm displayed a sensitivity of 99.0% and a specificity of 97.8%. The alarm notification system relayed all simulated alarm notification instances with a maximum delay of 106 ms. The UWB-based tracking system was found to be suitable to locate radio tags both in line-of-sight and in no-line-of-sight conditions. This result was obtained by using a machine learning-based algorithm that we developed to detect and compensate for the multipath effect in no-line-of-sight conditions. When using this algorithm, the error affecting the estimated position of the radio tags was smaller than 0.2 m, which is satisfactory for the application at hand. View Full-Text
Keywords: indoor positioning; localization; machine learning; tele-presence robot; ultra wide band; wireless sensor network indoor positioning; localization; machine learning; tele-presence robot; ultra wide band; wireless sensor network
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Capra, M.; Sapienza, S.; Motto Ros, P.; Serrani, A.; Martina, M.; Puiatti, A.; Bonato, P.; Demarchi, D. Assessing the Feasibility of Augmenting Fall Detection Systems by Relying on UWB-Based Position Tracking and a Home Robot. Sensors 2020, 20, 5361.

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