"A lot of this is old technology," Bob Miller, executive director of AT&T's communications-technology research department, told the Dallas Morning News. "But we're putting it together in ways that will help millions of people live dramatically better lives."
Miller and his team are looking at ways to connect thermometers, scales, blood pressure cuffs and other "old technology" along with wireless radios to leverage WiFi networks and Bluetooth interoperability for connected medical devices.
Miller's team at AT&T and Texas Instruments are working with New York-based start-up 24Eight to test the company's smart insoles, which have been outfitted with pressure sensors and accelerometers. The sensors monitor how well walkers distribute their weight and can determine if their balance is deteriorating and if they are heading for a fall. The insoles aim to enable doctors to know just when to restrict elderly patients to wheelchairs before they could hurt themselves. About one fall per day occurs in a nursing home with 200 patients, and one in 20 of those falls typically leads to a fatal complication within six months, accord to the Dallas Morning News report.
AT&T, TI, 24Eight and Texas Tech University are testing the insoles as well as many other devices at the Garrison Geriatric Center in Lubbock, Texas.
"We haven't collected enough data yet to discuss results, but we think it's incredibly important to shift the focus of care from treating problems to preventing problems," said Andrew Dentino, head of geriatric and palliative medicine at Texas Tech's medical school.