This story deals with a person with MS, but the application may help people with ALS in the future
Ben Krzysilk has multiple sclerosis. The disease erodes his mobility but for him that's not the most stressful part. "I can live with the MS. It's my illness, but it makes it extremely difficult on the caregivers."
That's why he and his wife eagerly signed up to test whether smart technology could help in their home. "We have a motion sensor up to our left, we have a camera up here to our right.
For a couple hundred dollars a month nearly every room in Krzysilk's house is monitored with cameras and sensors all designed to track his movements. The video streams online so when he is alone his family can log on and look in. "I just feel better knowing that he is safe."
Sensors can detect if Krzysilk has fallen and notifies his family.
Penny Landry relies on the system. She has Parkinson's and frequently loses her balance. "There is a lot of times that I wouldn't have been able to cope with anything without it being here. It has definitely allowed me to stay in my own home for a lot longer."
And that's the goal of this year-long pilot project.
Health officials in Alberta wanted to test the technology in more rural areas. Communities where home care support can be limited and the wireless signal isn't always as strong.
"This mat here is a bed sensor."
Families can be contacted when the system detects a problem or a break in routine. For example if someone is sleeping too much, or wandering.
Tracy Raadik Ruptash of Alberta Health Services says, "The alarms go right to the family member They can be reached by smart phone, email."
This smart home technology is more common in the U.S. and in Europe. But this researcher says there has been a recent surge of study in Canada.
Alex Mihailidis, from the University of Toronto added, "Things that we were trying to do five years ago we can do very easily now because computer processing time is very cheap, and also the funding that researchers are receiving for this is starting to increase, as well."
The Krzysilks will keep this technology until the project is complete in March.
Then they will likely have to decide whether they will pay to keep all those cameras and the peace of mind