UT Arlington kicks off Smart Care to test technologies, improve health care

The University of Texas at Arlington's College of Nursing and College of Engineering have received $634,500 in federal funds to kick off Smart Care – a discovery and demonstration center for technologies to help senior citizens, people with disabilities and injured veterans live healthier and longer in their own homes.

Researchers will work with business and industry partners to integrate advanced sensors, wireless communication and other technologies into a simulated home environment. Smart Care will evaluate the usefulness of existing medical monitoring devices or hardware. Researchers will also develop interfaces to connect devices and software that can interpret data and alert healthcare providers to needs for intervention.

U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Arlington, championed the initial funding for the project of $634,500 from the Health Resources and Services Administration.

"I am proud to see that UT Arlington is once again leading the way when it comes to high tech medical care," Barton said. "The technologies developed will give more seniors a chance to spend their golden years at home. Plus Smart Care will reduce costs, while at the same time allowing nurses and doctors to be more efficient with their time. This research will ultimately save lives and money, not only in North Texas, but nationwide."

The start-up funding will move Smart Care toward becoming an innovative model that can be applied throughout the country, said Carolyn Cason, associate dean for research in UT Arlington’s College of Nursing.

"With a growing senior population and more Americans than ever living with disabilities, technology devices have a promising role in monitoring health data, evaluating rehabilitation, and assisting treatment decisions," Cason said. "UT Arlington's Smart Care can be on the forefront, allowing for more efficient use of these advances and reducing the risks of independent living."

Some of the technologies already slated for evaluation in the Smart Care center include:

  • A bathroom with a health-monitoring toilet that measures the volume and frequency of elimination of urine and solid waste. It also includes an electronic mat that captures subtle differences in balance.
  • An electronic medication delivery and reminder system that is integrated into a computer network.
  • A sleep center that will be equipped with sensors to monitor sleep apnea and other sleep disturbances.

In addition to Cason, the team of researchers includes Associate Professors Manfred Huber and Gergely Zaruba and Senior Lecturer David Levine from the College of Engineering’s Computer Science and Engineering Department.

Kathryn Daniel, an assistant nursing professor and director of UT Arlington’s Adult and Gerontologic Nurse Practitioner Program, will act as program manager for Smart Care.

Smart Care researchers will use UT Arlington's Smart Hospital and laboratory space in UT Arlington's Social Work Complex to begin their work. They also plan to build relationships with area retirement centers where technology can be installed. Eventually, Smart Care will be a freestanding facility with a living environment and research stations, researchers say.

The University of Texas at Arlington is one of the state’s seven emerging research institutions and has nearly 33,000 students. Visit www.uta.edu for more information about the campus.


Media contact: Traci Peterson, tpeterso@uta.edu, 817-272-9208