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2015-09-15

Smart homes become smarter and more secure

"Smart homes" employ technologies that can increase the comfort, safety and energy management. In the future, smart homes will also serve for the care of older and disabled individuals. Tomorrow morning, Wagner Ourique de Morais will defend his PhD thesis at Halmstad University, and his research concerns an approach that makes it possible to handle sensitive information collected in smart homes in a more secure way. He has also developed a bed that monitors sleep behavior and a Tai Chi game that aims to show how serious games can contribute to fall prevention.

Wagner Ourique de Morais PhD thesis describes, besides a particular method for architecting smart homes. With his approach, sensitive information is not transferred outside the database.

– With my method, the information is not exported to software applications for data analysis, but the methods for data analysis are moved to where the information is located, that is in the database. This is something new in the area of smart homes, says Wagner Ourique de Morais.

Database management systems (DBMS) are usually employed for information storage and retrieval. But the new approach shows that it is possible to use a modern database management system as a platform for designing smart homes.

The information that is being collect by sensors in these homes is personal and therefore also very sensitive. Such information can for example reveal how a person acts and behaves in everyday life. It is therefore important that collected information is secured from being accessed by unauthorized people.

Wagner Ourique De Morais is sitting in the bed that he has developed at the lab Halmstad Intelligent Home.

Needs in the future

A further aspect is that the smart home technologies can assist old and disabled individuals living alone in different ways. Eventually, thanks to the home-based technologies, those individuals can live independently for longer in their own homes, assisted by technology in their daily routines.

– People are living longer and in the future, as many older people will need home care, available healthcare resources, for example staff and settings,  will not be enough, says Wagner Ourique de Morais.

He has also focused on health promotion for older people in their research on the smart home. But the purpose of Wagner Ourique de Morais research is not to replace human care with technology, but rather to complement and enhance healthcare delivery.

Healthcare Technology for the elderly

The thesis also describes a bed demonstrator, which he developed, that can monitor and assess older people's sleep behavior. The system measures movements, heartbeat, breathing and fi the person is awake or asleep. This could therefore be a valuable help for home care thus may detect abnormalities when older people are lonely at home.

Wagner Ourique de Morais has also developed a computer game to assist and enable older people to practice Tai Chi at home on their own. The player attempts to mimic a virtual Tai Chi instructor displayed on the screen.

– These so called serious games have a different purpose than just being entertaining and that can contribute to improving or maintaining health, says Wagner Ourique de Morais, and stresses that he wants to thank everyone who co-operated and helped him during his research.

Text and photo: MIKAEL EVARD

FACTS ABOUT THE DOCTORAL DEFENCE

Date and Time: September 16, 2015, at 1 p.m.

Room: Wigfors hall in house Visionen (J building on the campus

Opponent: Professor Diego López-de-Ipiña González-de-Artaza,  Deusto Tech-INTERNET, Faculty of Engineering, University of Deusto, Bilbao, Spain

Main Supervisor: Professor Bertil Svensson, Halmstad University

Second Supervisor: Associate Professor, Docent Nicholas Wickström, Halmstad University

Updated 2015-09-15