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It isn’t easy to check up on one’s elderly parents from afar, but perhaps technology can offer a partial solution. Researchers at Georgia Tech have developed an Internet-based “digital family portrait” designed for families to hang on the wall and receive daily information on their parents’ well-being. Sensors at the parents’ home record how much they climb stairs or move around. A computer compiles the information and sends it over the Internet to the digital portrait-a flat-panel display mounted on a wooden frame. Icons arrayed around the photo change in size to indicate how active the parent is on a given day. The folks who are monitored can choose the information they want transmitted. “We’re not building a granny-cam,” says project leader Elizabeth Mynatt. “Nobody really wants that.” While commercialization is possible within a year, Mynatt’s next project is to make frames for monitoring health and socialization.

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