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Saturday, June 25, 2022

Smarter funding to develop aged care health sensors for residents

A consortium of leading Australian universities has won $1.48 million in funding to develop smart health sensors for residents in Australia’s aged care sector.

The not-for-profit NSW Smart Sensing Network brings together researchers with small businesses who are working to develop sensor and data innovations to solve significant challenges for the aged care sector.

The $5 million industry-led initiative has received $1.48 million in funding under the latest round of the federal government’s Cooperative Research Centres Projects (CRC-P) program.

The market-led collaboration brings together companies Vlepis, CARETEQ, Allambie Heights, Great Communities and Machinery Forum with two prize-winning research teams from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT). 

NSSN Co-Director, Professor Julien Epps congratulated the team on the funding win.

“Vlepis participated in the NSSN Ageing Grand Challenge Forum last year and saw strong benefits via industry collaboration and participation,” she said.

“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.” 

Vlepis CEO Bill Dimopoulos said the company’s aim was 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,” he said.

“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,” said Mr Dimopoulos. 

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,” he said.

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