Video games and apps for elderly tested in Singapore

By Charlene Chin

New research centres trial innovative tools.

Image: Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore

Singapore is testing mobile apps, video games and smart sensors for the elderly.

The trials are being done by two new centres set up by the Nanyang Technological University for elderly care research - the Ageing Research Institute for Society and Education (ARISE) and the Centre for Population Health Sciences (CePHaS).

CePHaS is developing smartphone apps are to treat chronic diseases. Doctors can prescribe these apps to chronic patients to help them manage their symptoms and recovery.

Meanwhile, ARISE is working on video games that guide the elderly to exercise. “Exergames” can detect body movement and will be used to test motor coordination and memory skills. By studying the behaviour of the elderly, diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia can be detected early to provide medical care.
The games are being tested at Tan Tock Seng Hospital’s geriatric centre, community centres, and a Parkinson’s Disease Centre in Canada.

Professor Theng Yin Leng who leads ARISE, said that these games could also be a way for the elderly to spend time with younger people. “This will help empower the elderly to lead a mentally and physically healthy life through active ageing,” she said.

Another project by ARISE will see sensors installed in elderly citizens’ homes. The sensors can track their movements and monitor their lifestyle habits. These data will be collected and analysed to gain insight on their health and emotions.

The Housing Development Board and Infocomm Development Authority are also trialling sensors to monitor elderly movement. Relatives will be alerted to irregular patterns, like if the elderly remains stationary for a long time.