Panasonic Automotive and Industrial Systems Europe and pikkerton GmbH were announced winners of the Electronics Weekly Elektra Award for Excellence in Product Design, Medical Category, at a glittering ceremony held in London’s Grosvenor House Hotel. The design of pikkerton’s Grannyguard fall detection system, which is used in the care of elderly people, benefits from its use of Grid-EYE infrared sensors developed by Panasonic Automotive and Industrial Systems. The sensors offer the necessary privacy protection, human position and fall detection up to a distance of seven metres independent of lighting conditions.
pikkerton’s Grannyguard fall detection system is a unique solution to an increasing problem – how to monitor elderly people and detect falls and other problems without the need for wearable alarm devices or intrusive video systems.
As older people become the largest section of our population, we are seeing a sharp increase in injuries from falls. Conventional home care approaches are becoming difficult to sustain financially, so assistive devices deployed in the home allow older and disabled people to live in their own home as long as possible, making it safer and more comfortable. Monitoring systems have drawbacks, however: wearable systems require users to wear RFID or acceleration sensors, but this is onerous and requires discipline as well as battery maintenance. Non-wearable systems, such as video camera based systems, are more user-friendly – but have major issues with privacy and accuracy in darkness.
pikkerton developed Grannyguard, a unique autonomous system that resembles a light switch, using Panasonic’s Grid-EYE sensors to detect the person and background temperatures. This information passes through a series of complex algorithms, extracting data which allows Grannyguard to track people, categorize their position and situation and send an alarm if unusual behaviour or a fall is detected. The use of Grid-EYE sensors has several advantages which include privacy protection, human position and fall detection independent of lighting conditions, small size and cost-effectiveness. Grannyguard is a device with a future in every old or vulnerable person’s home as it provides a 24×7 real time situation analysis. Due to Grid-EYE’s features, Grannyguard has a detection wavelength range of 5 – 13 µm, thus allowing human position and fall detection to be very effective up to a distance of seven meters. Old people can be tracked in every room of the house without any privacy issues, and Grannyguard can monitor people suffering with medical conditions like memory loss, Alzheimer´s and dementia round the clock.
Lothar Feige, managing director, pikkerton GmbH said: “It gives me great pleasure to accept the Elektra Award for Excellence in Design, Medical Category. Grannyguard is a product which will help a very large and growing number of elderly people, giving them independence and dignity in old age. Our product development team benefitted greatly from the input of Panasonic’s Grid-EYE technical experts while developing Grannyguard, and we thank them for their partnership on the project.”
Maximilian Jakob, Panasonic’s product director, product marketing department, at Panasonic Automotive and Industrial Systems Europe commented: “We are very happy to have won the Elektra Award for Excellence in Design, Medical Category. This demonstrates the huge benefits and innovation Panasonic can offer to customers with our leading edge technologies. Every day, we develop new products for new applications with our customers, independent of customer size and market. With our strengthened and rapidly expanding Business Development Organization, we are in a position to serve all customers from start-up companies to major OEMs on a highly-skilled technical level in their local language. We therefore strongly believe that Panasonic is optimally placed for upcoming fast developing technology trends in the IoT, Automotive, Industrial and medical markets.”
Photo courtesy of Leo Johnson Photography, left to right: Elektra Awards host, comedian and writer Ian Moore; Mubeen Abbas, product marketing manager at Panasonic Automotive & Industrial Systems Europe; Lothar Feige, managing director at pikkerton, Maximilian Jakob, Panasonic product director, Product Marketing Department, at Panasonic Automotive & Industrial Systems Europe