Intel and the Alzheimer's Association are to fund a consortium aimed at using technology to ease the suffering of those afflicted by the disease to the tune of $1m. They hope to encourage more companies, universities and health organisations to join the group which aims to develop new models of Alzheimer's care based on computing, communications and home-help technology.
Intel hopes the consortium will grow and further its ongoing research with universities into how technology can help to support the health care of individuals in their homes.
The company already funds a Proactive Health research project which is developing in-home technologies aimed at addressing the needs of the world's ageing population. It is working on a wireless sensor network made up of thousands of sensing devices embedded around the home to monitor behavioural patterns, as well as prompting users to take medication.
The data collected by the sensor network can be used to help diagnose the early stages of dementia or other medical conditions by identifying changing patterns of behaviour. It could also help care givers to locate a patient if they were unconscious or in distress.
Both Intel and the Alzheimer's Association see this area as one of key importance as the population of the world gets older. Currently there are four million Alzheimer sufferers in the US, but this figure is expected to grow to 76 million by 2011.