Lisa D’Ambrosio, a researcher at the MIT AgeLab, agrees that SenseCam might be useful for patients with mild Alzheimer’s disease. She also thinks that relatives or caregivers might find the camera useful if it can be modified so that the images are downloaded automatically and wirelessly. “That might be a way for caregivers to check whether Mom or Dad is safe, to take a pulse on how someone is doing,” she says. She also suggests that even elderly people without memory impairment may benefit from this technology if it allows them to be monitored and supported by caregivers remotely.
Other groups will soon start investigating additional possible clinical and research uses for SenseCam. On November 27, Microsoft announced that it was giving $550 000 in funding to six teams of academic researchers in the United Kingdom and North America. One of the researchers, Fergus Gracey, a clinical psychologist from the Oliver Zangwill Centre for Neuropsychological Rehabilitation, in Ely, U.K., is planning to use SenseCam to help the rehabilitation of patients with acquired brain injury. “Many of our clients have a shorter fuse or find it difficult to manage emotional arousal,” says Gracey. “We hope to use the reviewing of SenseCam images of the trigger situation, along with heart-rate recordings of the individual during that situation, to help prompt recall and to help the person tune in physiologically to what was going on.”