University of Technology Sydney: Real-life data brings sense of wellbeing to aged care

The project aims to develop a smart triaging platform that uses wearable sensors to monitor key health and wellbeing indicators, and notify relevant staff automatically when needed.

It is part of a $5 million industry-led initiative spearheaded by the NSW Smart Sensing Network (NSSN) and aims to solve significant challenges for the aged care sector through the development of sensor and data innovations. Researchers at UTS and RMIT will work with several Australian SMEs, including Vlepis, as well as CARETEQ, Allambie Heights, Great Communities and Machinery Forum.

Vlepis CEO Bill Dimopoulos said: “We aim to build an integrated smart triaging platform that leverages data science and new Australian-manufactured sensing technologies to automatically identify health and wellbeing events that notify the relevant care staff. The project develops and then leverages low-cost, unobtrusive wearable sensors that will actively monitor the users’ wellbeing biomarkers such as heart rate, blood oxygenation and temperature.”

The collaboration will grow Australia’s sovereign manufacturing capability.
Distinguished Professor Fang Chen

“We know from recent reports that the proportion of the Australian population aged 60 or over is projected to double by 2031 and the cost to deliver aged-care services to our ageing population is expected to grow beyond $40 billion. Against a backdrop of a Royal Commission that has underlined under-performance and excessive workloads in the aged-care sector, the potential impacts for this project stretch well beyond purely financial metrics,” Dimopoulos said.

UTS Data Science Institute Executive Director Distinguished Professor Fang Chen said: “The technology will use real-life data for optimal detection and triage. It has a clear target of improving the well-being of at-risk Australians and reducing hospital admissions, saving lives and improving access to care in remote communities.

“Meanwhile, the collaboration will grow Australia’s sovereign manufacturing capability and directly addresses care providers’ compliance risk through ongoing health and wellbeing monitoring.

NSSN Co-Director Professor Julien Epps said Vlepis participated in last year’s NSSN Ageing Grand Challenge Forum and saw strong benefits via industry collaboration and participation.

“The workshops revealed a real commitment from the participants to support and solve real-world problems that affect the sector. It is great to see a company like Vlepis leverage the Network’s research capability and industry vehicles to validate the direction and application of their solutions,” Professor Epps said.

The NSW Smart Sensing Network, a consortium of eight leading universities across NSW and the ACT, is a not-for-profit innovation network that brings together universities, industry and government to translate world-class research into innovative smart sensing solutions that create value for NSW and beyond. Funding of $1.48m for this project was awarded under the latest round of the federal government’s Cooperative Research Centres Projects (CRC-P) program.