A Radar-Based Smart Sensor for Unobtrusive Elderly Monitoring in Ambient Assisted Living Applications

Biosensors (Basel). 2017 Nov 24;7(4):55. doi: 10.3390/bios7040055.


Continuous in-home monitoring of older adults living alone aims to improve their quality of life and independence, by detecting early signs of illness and functional decline or emergency conditions. To meet requirements for technology acceptance by seniors (unobtrusiveness, non-intrusiveness, and privacy-preservation), this study presents and discusses a new smart sensor system for the detection of abnormalities during daily activities, based on ultra-wideband radar providing rich, not privacy-sensitive, information useful for sensing both cardiorespiratory and body movements, regardless of ambient lighting conditions and physical obstructions (through-wall sensing). The radar sensing is a very promising technology, enabling the measurement of vital signs and body movements at a distance, and thus meeting both requirements of unobtrusiveness and accuracy. In particular, impulse-radio ultra-wideband radar has attracted considerable attention in recent years thanks to many properties that make it useful for assisted living purposes. The proposed sensing system, evaluated in meaningful assisted living scenarios by involving 30 participants, exhibited the ability to detect vital signs, to discriminate among dangerous situations and activities of daily living, and to accommodate individual physical characteristics and habits. The reported results show that vital signs can be detected also while carrying out daily activities or after a fall event (post-fall phase), with accuracy varying according to the level of movements, reaching up to 95% and 91% in detecting respiration and heart rates, respectively. Similarly, good results were achieved in fall detection by using the micro-motion signature and unsupervised learning, with sensitivity and specificity greater than 97% and 90%, respectively.

Keywords: fall detection; heart rate; micro-Doppler; respiration rate; supervised; ultra-wideband radar; unsupervised; vital signs monitoring.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Algorithms
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Monitoring, Physiologic
  • Quality of Life
  • ROC Curve
  • Radar*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Telemetry / methods*
  • Vital Signs