Creating safer, smarter homes

Creating safer, smarter homes: At the University of Washington School of Nursing, Professor George Demiris is harnessing the power of everyday items to turn houses into smart homes — and allowing older adults to live independently, thanks to modern technology.

Mary Ruiz’s allergy symptoms had been worsening.

Ruiz, 76, resides in an assisted living facility in South Seattle, and assumed it was just a bad allergy season.

But a sensor placed in her apartment by researchers from the UW School of Nursing soon alerted her to the fact that something else could be at fault: The humidity levels in her apartment were troublingly low. And when humidity levels drop, your nose, throat and sinuses react. Even more worrisome than that, low humidity also enables cold and flu viruses to spread more easily and stay alive much longer. So Ruiz went out and purchased a humidifier — a simple solution, but one that could not have been reached without the sensor.

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