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Smart Carpet and McAfee In the News

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010 by | Filed Under: In The News, Security Help, Uncategorized
 
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Caregivers get Smart.

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Caregivers of elderly and disabled friends, relatives, and patients are eagerly looking forward to getting “Smart”, thanks to Mizzou University of Missouri’s electrical and computer engineering professor, Harry Tyrer, Jr.

The professor has invented the “Smart Carpet”, a computerized flooring system that uses embedded sensors to monitor walking activity and then sends the data to a computer that analyzes it and retrieves the information necessary to keep a patient more independent and safe as unobtrusively as possible. The project received funding from the Alzheimer’s Association.

Professor Tyrer has a research team with four graduate students that are working on programming the sensors to learn to differentiate between different types of falls and the risk of injury associated with them. By monitoring walking activity, the sensors can provide information consistent with stumbling or falling.
When the carpet’s sensors are triggered, a signal is sent to the computer. What happens next is up to individual choice. In theory, the signal could activate an alarm that wakes the caregiver up or notifies a caregiver that lives off-site. If the Smart Carpet is placed near a door, the sensors could detect when the patient was approaching and send a signal to the caregiver, which would be of great benefit to caretakers of patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

The sensors will “see” the person’s footsteps, assess their step, and identify their location. It will detect any falls and follow them to high risk areas such as their kitchen. The Smart Carpet can also provide distinction between the caregiver and the patient. In addition, the plans for the Smart Carpet include being able to have family members and others be able to be informed via the web. This product will make family members who worry about a loved one with Alzheimer’s wandering off sleep a little better knowing that they will be notified if something were to happen.

The best thing about the Smart Carpet is that the professor’s team is working diligently to make it as low cost as possible to ensure that families and caretakers can afford it. When this product becomes market-ready, it’s my prediction that there are going to be a whole lot of people out there that are going to be able to benefit from their caregivers getting a whole lot “Smart”er.

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12/23/10 – Done deal.
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If you use McAfee as an antivirus, then you may be interested to know that it has been acquired by Intel for a mere 7.68 billion dollars. Intel said back in August that security is now a major issue within the company, but “today’s security approach does not fully address” many of today’s new Internet-connected devices, including wireless devices. Intel has always been known for development and manufacturing of hardware; now McAfee that has been bought, it looks like that the focus will shift greatly to the development of software and services. In addition, it looks like Intel intends to enhance security for hardware, especially since they are delving into the mobile device sector.

Alex Eckelberry, president and chief executive of McAfee competitor Sunbelt Software, responded immediately and at length. “I think this is a smart move for Intel”, said Eckelberry. “They have been playing at the edge of antivirus for years, but now this gives them a real footprint in the market.”

Eckelberry sees work ahead in the mobile security market. “I think Intel’s stated interest in leveraging McAfee’s technology to go after the mobile and cloud markets will not be without challenges. With five major platforms out there (Blackberry, Droid, and the iPhone, among others), there is quite a bit of work to be done to support a broad range of mobile platforms.” He does not foresee a problem for consumers, but contends that smaller antivirus companies will go after potential customers, especially if they see any weakness on McAfee’s part. This may end up being a true prediction: Due to the incredible amount of security threats that compound daily, enterprise antivirus is one of the most competitive technology segments today.

There is already an Intel-McAfee security product in the works for 2011.

Currently mobile malware is growing at an alarming rate. If Intel-McAfee accomplishes what it sets out to do, wireless internet users can look forward to better security. And that’s always a good thing.

~ Lori Cline

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