AI-powered passive monitoring is taking off and has huge advantages over the traditional way of monitoring patients. The advantage of passive monitoring, as opposed to data collected from wearables, is that it doesn’t require patients or seniors to actively wear a device at all times. Used in a hospital setting, the tech reduces healthcare workers’ risk of exposure to COVID-19 by limiting their contact with patients and automating data collection for vital signs. Also, camera-based monitoring is often not liked by those being monitored by a camera! As such, passive monitoring represents a non-intrusive way to keep tabs on people’s activities without directly watching them or asking them to wear something.
A research team at MIT developed a device called Emerald that can be installed in hospital rooms. Emerald emits signals which are then analyzed using machine learning as they’re reflected back. The device differentiates between patients by their movement patterns, can sense people through some walls and is sensitive enough to capture subtle movements such as the rise and fall of a patient’s chest to analyze breathing patterns.
Radar is one of the most promising areas of monitoring technology. There are already passive monitoring technologies using radar that can be deployed at home or other facilities. Caspar.ai has a radar-based passive monitoring system that can create a full report of a senior’s activities and monitor for abnormalities, signs of disease, unsteady gait, and more. This means that the monitoring will only matter if something abnormal is detected and requires intervention. Otherwise, it’s providing reassurance to the operators of long-term care facilities and is invisible for the seniors.
Most recently, the industry has coalesced around standards for the use of radar, which has led to the Ripple standard for radar interoperability that’s designed to facilitate more rapid adoption for home and hospital monitoring purposes. Radar will be commonplace in consumer and medical applications, and the Ripple standard will help developers to simplify the application creation process so that their software is compatible with radar technologies across different hardware vendors. Companies like Blumio are developing medical applications based on radar to read biomarkers such as blood pressure from outside the body.
Radar sensors could be installed inside a desktop computer or its keyboard to monitor a person’s health or to aid pediatric cardiologists when monitoring a baby’s heart function. While it might currently take six months to update software to confirm to a new radar standard, Ripple could drastically reduce that time frame.