Singapore is expanding a trial to install sensors in homes for elderly and utilities monitoring, it announced this weekend.

The Housing Development Board and Infocomm Development Authority launched two sets of systems for residents in the Yuhua neighbourhood in the city’s west – elderly monitoring and utilities management.

The elderly monitoring system tracks the movement of elderly in the house via sensors. It can alert relatives to irregular patterns in their movement, like if there are no movements for a long period.

The elderly will also wear a panic button that can be activated to alert their caregiver.

The utilities system allows residents to monitor electricity and water use through a mobile app. They can set energy use limits and will be alerted if the level of use is very high. They will also be notified if appliances are left running while no one is at home and can switch them off remotely.

The devices were launched at a roadshow in Yuhua this weekend, and are available for sale online until end of June for 3,200 households.

This follows an initial trial of smart homes in 10 households in the same neighbourhood from October 2015 to April this year.

“This is part of a larger year-long trial, to gain a deeper understanding of how smart technologies can benefit more families,” said Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu, at the launch.

The Singapore Government is favouring investments in elderly care and telehealth for Smart Nation due to citizen demand.

“Households’ willingness to pay for home energy management was quite low, but their willingness to pay for something like telehealth, or something like smart elderly monitoring, was slightly higher”, she said.

“We won’t go great guns blazing on some of these technologies,” she added.

Water agency PUB hopes that utilities monitoring could encourage citizens to reduce their consumption. It is piloting automatic water meter readers in homes, allowing residents to track use by the hour. “We would like to feed the public as much information in real-time as possible,” says Harry Seah, PUB’s Chief Technology Officer.

Image by Gyver Chang, licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0