Amanda Paluch, UMass Amherst
Dae Hyun Kim, Hebrew SeniorLife
Rags Gupta, Butlr Technologies Inc

MassAITC Cohort: Year 1

Project Abstract: Aging is characterized by a decrease in physical and mental capacity, increasing the risk of chronic diseases or mortality. The clinical display of aging may be subtle at first, such as decrease in physical activity and slowing of gait, until it manifests as frailty at a later stage. Frailty affects 10% of community-dwelling older adults, with up to 25% of those 80 years or older. To prevent and slow progression of frailty, early detection is key, which can be achieved by measuring key movement features of frailty such as gait speed, walking distance, and time spent physically active and sedentary.

This project will develop a contactless in-home assessment tool for frailty using body heat sensing technology. The ceiling or wall-mounted heat sensors, developed by butlr, will measure real-time movement of free-living people without jeopardizing privacy. The spatial intelligence technology of butlr can be used for early identification of changes in movement patterns, and in turn monitoring frailty.

We will enroll 60 older adults with various levels of frailty and install heat sensors in their homes. We will develop heat sensor-based algorithms for key movement features of frailty against in-clinic frailty assessment and free-living wearable sensor-based features of frailty as gold standards.  Additionally, we will evaluate acceptability of using these heat sensors in homes of older adults. Once validated, early detection and monitoring of frailty become possible in older adults’ home environment, which could eventually lead to interventions to reduce the burden of frailty and promote healthy aging.