News / Winnipeg

Gadgets geared at aging population on display at Winnipeg tech conference

The city is playing host to Age-Well 2017 from Oct. 17-19.

Age-Well investigator Dr. Goldie Nejat of the University of Toronto is one of the presenters at this year's conference. Her social robots assist older adults who have cognitive impairment with everything from from brushing their teeth and getting dressed to preparing and eating meals.

View 3 photos

zoom

Supplied

Age-Well investigator Dr. Goldie Nejat of the University of Toronto is one of the presenters at this year's conference. Her social robots assist older adults who have cognitive impairment with everything from from brushing their teeth and getting dressed to preparing and eating meals.

Smart wheelchairs, homes that track heartbeats and virtual gyms—the brains behind these new gadgets aimed to help an aging population are coming to Winnipeg.

The city is hosting Age-Well 2017 an annual conference bringing together researchers from across the country, industry, non-profit and government sectors and the public to focus on technological solutions to support an aging population.

“People are going to see a range right from research that’s starting out, to technology that’s about to hit the marketplace,” said Dr. Alex Mihailidis, scientific director at Age-Well and biomedical engineer developing smart-home systems.

Smart-homes can include systems that are embedded in the environment to measure things like heart rate, blood pressure and sleep quality, providing a health assessment of how well that person may be doing, he said.

“The key thing there is not making it too onerous on the person, so not loading them up with a bunch of devices or having them put a bracelet on, but it’s built into the house itself.”

Another project to be unveiled at the conference is a smart wheelchair system created by Braze Mobility, which provides navigation support, rather than driving the wheelchair for a person.

“Research has shown older adults don’t want their wheelchairs to drive themselves, they want them to have these supports built in,” Mihailidis said.

Part of developing technology for an older population means conducting research into how those populations use technology and what they want to use it for, he added.

“You have some individuals that are very willing to use technology to support them in all aspects of their daily lives, whether its reminding them of their medication or doctor’s appointments,” he said.

“Then you have some that would really just like to use it for a very specific task, they don’t want it to be completely integrated in everything they do.”

Part of the reason why the conference is in Winnipeg is Age-Well’s recent partnership with University of Manitoba researchers and professors.

“We really want to make sure we have a strong presence, not only in Winnipeg but in Manitoba as we move forward,” Mihailidis said.

Age-Well 2017 will take place at the Fairmont Winnipeg Oct. 17-19.

More on Metronews.ca