Are sensors and artificial intelligence the future of ageing-in-place  technology?

International research[1] is clearly showing the value of sensors in a private residence to extend the amount of time a person can remain independently in their home for longer.

SECURELY® is a trust-owned New Zealand company that has a range of products that use sensors and artificial intelligence to monitor activity within a home. These same products can indicate illness or deteriorating health by alerting family and caregivers to changes in daily routine.

General Manager Mark Smith says having infra-red motion detection sensors installed throughout the residence can let family and carers know that a person is “up and about” in the morning. He said unusual patterns of activity, or lack of activity, such as not using the kitchen or bathroom can be early indicators of illness that can be quickly followed up on.

“Products like our FAMILY and PRO packs have sensors linked to an APP that enable family to view activity from wherever they may be – at work or living in a different town. It’s unobtrusive for those in the home, but it provides greater peace of mind for family and carers.

The resident themselves can summon help at any time using their medical alarm, through a pendant or simply calling for help using voice activated emergency call device.

Mark Smith says technology is providing greater independence and peace of mind for family and carers of seniors, but it also has potential for those with mental illness and conditions like dementia as sensors can be installed on doors and gates with a text alert sent to family members.

The figures

According to the Ministry of Social Development’s “Aging in Place”: The Views of Older Homeowners on Maintenance, Renovation and Adaptation” older people prefer to remain in the family home.

Statistics NZ, 2013 Census, show that most people aged 65+ live in private dwellings but the proportion decreases with age. In 2013, of people aged 65+ living in private dwellings: 59.3 % were aged 65–74 years; 31.0 % were aged 75–84 years; 9.7 % were aged 85+.

There are also sound financial reasons for seniors staying in the family home for longer. Compare the cost of a FAMILY or PRO pack at a few hundred dollars compared with the cost of residential care which can range into the thousands per month depending on whether you are eligible for the Residential Care Subsidy after being Means Tested, and the level of care and service you require.


Falls in the home

We know from ACC data that one third of people over 65 fall in their home every year. The ACC cost due to fall-related injuries in the home were more than $163milion in 2016, estimated to rise to $418 million by 2025.

Of those that fall, 60% spend an average of 12 hours on the floor before being found. And 88% of those falls require hospitalisation[2].


Painting a different picture with technology

But for those that had fallen and lain on the floor unable or unwilling to call for help (only 20% of those with a medical alarm use it to call for help)[3] this could have been prevented through:


  • Wearing a fall detector pendant could have immediately alerted our 24/7 monitoring centre who would have called to check if assistance was required, or if there was no answer would have called an ambulance (at our expense)
  • Installing sensors would have shown a lack of activity, sending a predictive alert to our monitoring station and family members to indicate a potential issue which would have been followed up by either a family member or alert our monitoring call centre
  • Having our voice activated emergency call device so a call for help using just their voice could have been made if they were not carrying their pendant or unable to press the pendant


For a free in-home consultation reach out to us on 0800 865 865 or visit our website for more information.



[1] International Journal of Medical Informatics Volume 80, Issue 5, May 2011, Pages 310-331

Randomized Trial of Intelligent Sensor System for Early Illness Alerts in Senior Housing

Marilyn Rantz 1, Lorraine J Phillips 2, Colleen Galambos 3, Kari Lane 2, Gregory L Alexander 2, Laurel Despins 2, Richelle J Koopman 4, Marjorie Skubic 5, Lanis Hicks 6, Steven Miller 2, Andy Craver 2, Bradford H Harris 5, Chelsea B Deroche 7


[2] Ministry of Health Ageing in Place Conference

[3] Ministry of Health Ageing in Place Conference