Intelligent Machines

Portable Pathfinder

For many people with brain injuries, mental retardation, or Alzheimer’s disease, getting lost or disoriented is a common and distressing experience. At the University of Washington, computer scientist Henry Kautz’s team has developed a system that uses cell phones to monitor users’ whereabouts and help keep them on track. The phone, equipped with a GPS receiver that gauges its location, communicates wirelessly with a PC running novel artificial-intelligence software. Based on about three weeks of data, the software learns to predict daily behavior patterns, such as which bus a user takes. Then, if the system thinks the user is, say, getting off at the wrong bus stop, the phone sounds an alert and displays a text prompt on the screen – including directions for getting home. Kautz’s team plans to do tests next spring, together with University of Washington researchers in rehabilitation medicine. The software could be on the market within two years.

Uh oh–you've read all five of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium

$179.95/yr US PRICE

More from Intelligent Machines

Artificial intelligence and robots are transforming how we work and live.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Premium.

  • Insider Premium {! insider.prices.premium !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Our award winning magazine, unlimited access to our story archive, special discounts to MIT Technology Review Events, and exclusive content.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

    Access to the Magazine archive. Over 24,000 articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips.

    Special Discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

    First Look. Exclusive early access to stories.

    Insider Conversations. Join in and ask questions as our editors talk to innovators from around the world.

You've read of free articles this month.