International experts debate on fall detection

A group of internationally renowned experts from Switzerland, Spain and Ireland, gathered last March 7 with the Fraunhofer’s team in what was the first workshop on the Fall Competence Center (FCC). The initiative, organized by Fraunhofer AICOS, aimed to foster the sharing of know-how and expertise on topics such as fall detection and management.

Among the guests, we note the presence of Dr. Alan Bourke (Laboratory of Movement Analysis and Measurement - École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne), Prof. John Nelson (Centre for Physical Activity and Health - University of Limerick), Prof. Andreu Català and Prof. Joan Cabestany (Technical Research Centre for Dependency Care and Autonomous Living - Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya).

The Fraunhofer AICOS took the opportunity to deepen the understanding on these experts’ research, present their own ongoing projects and discuss new ideas. The outcomes of this workshop allowed strengthening the bonds between these institutions and setting the tone for future collaborations in the scope of their core competences.

Researchers from Fraunhofer AICOS gave a full presentation about the FCC as well as its ongoing lines of action, such as Fall Risk Assessment, Fall Detection, Activity Monitoring, Fall Prevention and Smart Rehabilitation. Likewise, the international guests had the opportunity to approach the work they have been developing.

Dr. Alan Bourke, from Laboratory of Movement Analysis and Measurement (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne), talked over gait analysis and spatio-temporal parameters with foot-worn sensors, highlighting the relation of gait parameters with fear of falling. Physical activity monitoring and Instrumented Functional Tests using inertial sensors: Simple Shoulder test, Timed Up & Go, Berg Balance Test were also some of the subjects addressed by the expert. As a final point, Dr. Alan Bourke presented a European Project in which his group is involved: Farseeing.

Representing the Centre for Physical Activity and Health (University of Limerick), Prof. John Nelson presented several projects covering topics related to wireless sensors, mobility monitoring, signal processing, falls prevention and mobile platforms. Prof. John Nelson also embraced the opportunity to present ICT4Depression, a European Project in which his institution is involved.

Finally, Prof. Andreu Català and Prof. Joan Cabestany, referred to some of the projects in which Fraunhofer AICOS is also involved, such as REMPARK - Personal Health Device for the Remote and Autonomous Management of Parkinson’s Disease and E-NOFALLS - European Network for Fall Prevention, Intervention and Security. From the Technical Research Centre for Dependency Care and Autonomous Living (Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya), the specialists discussed some main areas of interest and competence: design and development of specific electronic systems and solutions, applied artificial intelligence, fall detection, usability and user centred design, technology for chronic diseases. Furthermore, Prof. Andreu Català and Prof. Joan Cabestany presented FATE - a project which validates an innovative and efficient ICT-based solution focused on improving the elder’s quality of life by an accurate detection of falls, both at home and outdoors, and SENSE4CARE, a start-up company in collaboration with the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya that is commercializing two products: a fall detector and a device for Parkinson Disease symptoms measurement.

The outcomes of this workshop could not have been more positive considering the brainstorming and share of know-how fostered. Surely this was the first of many enriching gatherings.