Researchers at De Montfort University Leicester and the University of Lincoln are developing a device to track scooters and provide local authority care providers with information about their users.
The idea is to enable care staff to locate a person if there is an emergency when they are out, and to be able to send someone to assist them.
The ‘Integrating mobility vehicles and device with smart homes’ project is funded by a £40,000 Higher Education Collaboration Grant from the Transport Innovation Network.
Dr Eric Goodyer from DMU, who is joint leader of the project, said: “We do not want people’s homes to become prisons.
"We want to extend home-based telecare into mobile telecare devices so that support can still be available when older people go out of the house and they can continue living normal lives in the community.
During the project, a device will be developed to fit inside a standard mobility scooter to monitor a person’s location and well-being. It will connect to a remote care provider using mobile phone technology.
Once the user returns home, the device will connect the mobility scooter into the user’s home telecare network using a private radio connection.
Dr Amr Ahmed from University of Lincoln said: “Out-of-house activities are important as they contribute to reducing the social isolation and relative lack of self-confidence that many older people fall into when they are limited to the boundaries of their homes, especially if they have previously led an active life.
“However, this is an area that hasn’t received as much attention as the issue of helping people within the home."
Dr Goodyer and Dr Ahmed are also exploring the feasibility of developing a generic hardware and software interface that could be used in mobile telecare devices to ensure there is an open standard.