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Monitoring meaningful activities using small low-cost devices in a smart home

Tewell, J., O’Sullivan, D., Maiden, N. ORCID: 0000-0001-6233-8320 , Lockerbie, J. & Stumpf, S. ORCID: 0000-0001-6482-1973 (2019). Monitoring meaningful activities using small low-cost devices in a smart home. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, 23(2), pp. 339-357. doi: 10.1007/s00779-019-01223-2


A challenge associated with an ageing population is increased demand on health and social care, creating a greater need to enable persons to live independently in their own homes. Ambient assistant living technology aims to address this by monitoring occupants’ ‘activities of daily living’ using smart home sensors to alert caregivers to abnormalities in routine tasks and deteriorations in a person’s ability to care for themselves. However, there has been less focus on using sensing technology to monitor a broader scope of so-called ‘meaningful activities’, which promote a person’s emotional, creative, intellectual, and spiritual needs. In this paper, we describe the development of a toolkit comprised of off-the-shelf, affordable sensors to allow persons with dementia and Parkinson’s disease to monitor meaningful activities as well as activities of daily living in order to self-manage their life and well-being. We describe two evaluations of the toolkit, firstly a lab-based study to test the installation of the system including the acuity and placement of sensors and secondly, an in-the-wild study where subjects who were not target users of the toolkit, but who identified as technology enthusiasts evaluated the feasibility of the toolkit to monitor activities in and around real homes. Subjects from the in-the-wild study reported minimal obstructions to installation and were able to carry out and enjoy activities without obstruction from the sensors, revealing that meaningful activities may be monitored remotely using affordable, passive sensors. We propose that our toolkit may enhance assistive living systems by monitoring a wider range of activities than activities of daily living.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Personal and Ubiquitous Computing. The final authenticated version is available online at:
Publisher Keywords: Internet of Things, Smart homes, Passive sensors, Passive health monitoring, Meaningful activities
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Departments: School of Science & Technology > Computer Science
Bayes Business School > Management
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of OSullivan_PUC_CR.docx] Text - Accepted Version
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