Researchers at Manchester University (Manchester, UK) have developed a smart carpet that is capable of reconstructing images of the footprints of objects that are placed on top of it.
The scientists believe that such smart carpets could be fitted in care homes or hospital wards to monitor the walking habits of patients. Physiotherapists could also use the carpet to map changes and improvements in a person’s gait.
The carpet itself comprises an array of grooved plastic optical fibers whose transmission losses change when they are deformed by any object that is placed on top of them. Light is transmitted into the fibers by an array of LED transmitters, while the outputs are bundled together and coupled to a single large area photodiode connected to an amplifier.
The signals from the photodiode are analyzed by a computer using a technique known as Guided-Path Tomography (GPT), which enables images of the objects produced from the data to be reconstructed.
The researchers, led by Dr. Patricia Scully from Manchester University's Photon Science Institute, believe the carpet could be vital not only for helping people in the immediate aftermath of a fall, but also in identifying subtle changes in people's walking habits which might not be spotted by a family member or carer.
"The carpet can be retrofitted at low cost, to allow living space to adapt as the occupiers' needs evolve -- particularly relevant with an aging population and for those with long term disabilities -- and incorporated non-intrusively into any living space or furniture surface such as a mattress or wall that a patient interacts with," says Scully.
Related items on gait analysis from Vision Systems Design that you might also find of interest.
Researchers at the Ludwig-Maximilians University (Munich, Germany) have built a system using Microsoft's Kinect sensor to identify individuals from their gait.
Newcastle University (Newcastle, UK) researchers are using a video motion capture system to assess what constitutes a 'normal' gait in pigs by focusing on the angle of their joints and length of stride.
-- Dave Wilson, Senior Editor, Vision Systems Design