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SEMINAR MAR 25: Sensor Technologies for Managing Disease and Disability


Speaker Info:

Dr. Frank Knoefel
Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine
University of Ottawa
Rafik A. Goubran
Professor and Dean, Faculty of Engineering and Design


Technology has been proposed as part of the solution to the challenges of a population that is getting increasingly frail, but prefers to “age in place.” A number of different sensors and sensor types have been proposed to monitor health conditions and overall functioning of older adults in their homes. This C2C seminar will review a number of unobtrusive sensors that have been used in both laboratory and community settings. Our group has used a pressure sensitive mat that can distinguish between healthy and impaired transfers from bed. The same mat has also been used to monitor breathing at the end of life. Other sensors include ones as simple as magnetic switches on the fridge door and as complicated as electronic noses and microphone arrays. Ultimately, these technologies will be able to monitor older adults in their homes and detect changes that can lead to early intervention, thus preventing health or functional deterioration and more significant morbidity, and hence supporting “aging in place.”

About the Speakers:

Dr. Goubran's work focuses on Digital Signal Processing and its applications in audio processing and biomedical engineering. He has led many research projects in the areas of VoIP, sensors, noise and echo cancellation, microphone arrays, and the design of smart independent living environments for seniors. Dr Goubran has published over 170 journal and conference papers, and holds 10 patents in these areas. He is currently chair of the Council of Ontario Deans of Engineering and serving his second term as Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Design at Carleton University.

Dr. Knoefel is a physician trained in care of the elderly with experience in geriatric rehabilitation and memory disorders. He is currently working at Ottawa’s Memory Clinic located at Bruyère Continuing Care. He holds appointments as Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine at the University of Ottawa and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Systems and Computer Engineering at Carleton University. He is also a Clinical Scientist at the Bruyère Research Institute, a University of Ottawa and Bruyère Continuing Care Partnership. Dr. Knoefel’s is co-lead of the TAFETA (Technology Assisted Friendly Environment for the Third Age, research program that is focussed on developing technologies to help older adults “age in place.” His current interests include using sensors for remote monitoring, memory training, cognitive impairment and driving.

Spring 2014 Series Theme:

The topic of the Spring 2014 Coast to Coast seminar series is "Technology for Aging Well" and it is built around a pan-Canadian project titled AGE-WELL (Aging Gracefully across Environments using Technology to Support Wellness, Engagement and Long Life.) The focus of the series will be a discussion how to use technology in helping support the Canadian aging population to ensure that all Canadians can grow older with dignity and grace.

One of the goals of AGE-WELL is to address socio-economic, ethical, and regulatory challenges related to the development and commercialization of technologies for aging. This includes generating new knowledge about the technology needs of older adults and their caregivers and creating and producing high-quality and sustainable health care solutions for older Canadians. Partners in AGE-WELL include the University Health Network, Simon Fraser University, IBM, Phillips Healtcare, and Fraser Health.

Coordinators of the series are Dr. Andrew Sixsmith, Director of the SFU Gerontology Research Centre and a Deputy Director of the IRMACS Centre, and Dr. Alex Mihailidis, the Barbara G. Stymiest Research Chair in Rehabilitation Technology at the University of Toronto and Toronto Rehab Institute.

The speakers in the series will speak from two perspectives:

  • The perspective of researchers that have successfully built and/or are in the process of building advanced technologies such as communications technologies, robotics, mobile networks, and artificial intelligence with aims to encourage increased independence and safety in the home and to support “aging in place”.
  • The perspective of researchers that have extensive experience within the area of health and quality of life of older people and the role of health and social care services.

This seminar series will be of interest to health and social scientists, engineers, and industry who are either carrying out and/or about to embark on development of innovative technology-based solutions that promote independence and healthy aging and optimize health care resource utilization.

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