Empowering Elderly Care Solutions with IoT and SBCs

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24 Jul, 2023

Empowering Elderly Care Solutions with IoT and SBCs

How IoT devices and SBCs improve the quality of life and care for elderly people

The world's population is aging rapidly, with the number of people aged 60 and over expected to double by 2050. By 2050, the proportion of the world's population over 60 years old is projected to nearly double from 12% to 22% [1]. Therefore, technological advancements are crucial in promoting independence, safety, and overall well-being among seniors. 

Currently, there are several medical-connected devices that monitor physiological data such as blood pressure and oxygen levels. Smart home devices also make the lives of elderly persons easier. However, combining Internet of Things (IoT) and single-board computers (SBC) can take elderly care to the next level.

This article investigates how innovative and customizable solutions combining the IoT and SBCs can empower elderly care.

Enhancing Elderly Care with IoT and SBCs

IoT solutions present a remarkable opportunity to revolutionize elderly care by monitoring health, bolstering security, and alleviating loneliness. However, to truly elevate the quality of elderly care, IoT solutions require the support of robust and powerful SBCs. By leveraging cutting-edge SBCs, it is possible to integrate devices seamlessly, harmonize data, and optimize the system within a compact package.

Integrating IoT and SBCs within more complex systems offers numerous advantages, including scalability, seamless integration with other technologies, expanded functionality, and enhanced reliability. Therefore, SBCs can be crucial in powering health monitors, motion detectors, and other IoT devices. In addition, the combination of IoT and SBCs can deliver affordable, adaptable, and personalized care solutions for elderly individuals.

Furthermore, integrating IoT and SBCs with other technologies, such as AI, machine learning, and predictive analytics, opens up new horizons for advanced data analysis and decision-making. These technologies can further improve the quality of the elderly life by incorporating features like voice-activated assistants and personalized medication reminders.

Advantages of using IoT and SBCs in elderly care

Incorporating IoT and SBCs in elderly care comes with several advantages. Remote monitoring of vital signs, movement, and activity levels through sensors enables doctors and caregivers to collect crucial data, ensuring prompt attention and personalized care for elderly patients. Implementing these technologies also improves safety and security by detecting potential hazards such as falls, gas leaks, or intruders in the home environment. Therefore, this integration allows swift communication with caregivers to mitigate risks and provide timely responses.

Additionally, utilizing IoT and SBCs helps reduce healthcare costs by enabling early detection and intervention of health problems. These actions prevent hospital readmissions and reduce the need for in-person visits. Therefore, this proactive approach saves expenses and improves overall health outcomes.

When it comes to monitoring vital signs for older adults, it's crucial to have dependable devices that can accurately check heart rate, body temperature, blood pressure, and breathing rate. SBCs provide a robust foundation for developing a comprehensive vital sign monitoring system tailored to the specific needs of older adults.


IoT and SBCs can be utilized in elderly care to create applications for various purposes. The IoT concept is crucial in connecting different application elements, and the SBC is responsible for processing data and making decisions. Some examples of such applications are listed in this section.

Falling detection and gesture recognition

In elderly care, developing systems that can automatically detect falls and send alerts to pre-defined contacts is of utmost importance. Time of Flight (ToF) sensors, such as the REAL3™ 3D sensor, are precious to achieve this. Unlike wearable options like bands or buttons, ToF sensors offer a non-intrusive approach. These sensors utilize infrared technology and provide high-resolution monitoring of rooms without additional illumination, enhancing user comfort and convenience. 

A suitable SBC like the ROCK 4 SE, developed by OKdo and Radxa, can be used to create a reliable falling detection system. ROCK 4 SE features a high-performance Rockchip RK3399-T Hexa-core processor, an onboard 40P GPIO extension header, USB ports, WiFi, and Gigabit Ethernet connections. In addition, the board incorporates a camera and monitor interface and an integrated 3.5mm audio jack that supports microphone input.

Radxa ROCK 4 SE.

The communication between the ToF sensor and the ROCK 4 SE is established through the I2C interface. The SBC utilizes image processing algorithms that analyze the raw ToF sensor data to identify falls and gestures. In the event of fall detection, the SBC promptly sends messages to caregivers or family members using an SMS API for immediate notification.

Beyond fall detection, ToF sensors can enable other features like gesture recognition and tracking movements. The SBC can respond to gestures based on pre-configured settings, such as activating or controlling devices like the air-conditioning system. In addition, the system could call assistance by defining an emergency gesture.

Therefore, combining ToF sensors and an SBC like the ROCK 4 SE can provide a robust and efficient solution for automatic fall detection and gesture recognition in elderly care. Since it is not wearable, the system can operate 24/7 plugged in.

Motion detection

In elderly care, it's essential to use high-precision sensors that can effectively capture even subtle movements, especially for seniors with restricted mobility. Conventional motion sensors aren't suitable for this demographic since they often fail to detect such movements. However, the XENSIV™ 60 GHz sensor can significantly improve the system's effectiveness due to its higher precision.

To create a comprehensive motion sensing system, you can install a network of sensors throughout the home. Each sensor is connected to a control unit, which, in turn, connects to a Wi-Fi/Bluetooth circuit. The XENSIV™ KIT CSK BGT60TR13C is an example of such a configuration. An SBC like the Radxa ROCK 4 SE is ideal for centralized data collection and processing of these sensors. The ROCK 4 SE offers Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity and high processing power, making it well-suited for handling incoming data from the sensor network.

This system can handle simple tasks like managing the lighting system but can also function as a security solution. For example, it can automatically turn off appliances such as electric stoves if an older person leaves home with them still on. The system can also alert caregivers when seniors enter or leave specific areas like the garden. Additionally, it can act as a theft monitoring system and send SMS notifications to the appropriate parties if there is an intrusion.

Breathing and heartbeat monitoring

Combining higher-precision motion sensors like the XENSIV™ 60 GHz sensor with SBCs like the ROCK 4 SE creates a world of new possibilities in monitoring seniors' vital signs. With these advanced sensors, subtle movements in the chest related to cardiorespiratory activity can be detected with accuracy. Seniors can be monitored in their homes, with real-time data providing valuable insights into their vital signs. This allows for early detection of any irregularities or distress, ensuring prompt intervention and care.


The combination of higher-precision sensors, IoT solutions, and the processing capabilities of the ROCK 4 SE enables the development of sophisticated applications in elderly care. These applications allow real-time monitoring, early detection of potential risks, and prompt responses to critical situations safety, providing convenience and peace of mind for caregivers and family members.

About the Sponsor: OKdo

OKdo is a brand delivering a unique combination of hardware, software, development, and manufacturing services to help customers turn their innovative ideas into commercial realities. The company has been endorsed by technology giants such as Arm, NXP, Broadcom, Intel, and SEEED. OKdo partners with different brands to bring the latest and most innovative IoT and SBC products to people around the world.


[1] World Health Organization, 2022.  “Ageing and health

[2] Cogniteq, 2022. “IoT for seniors: Solutions and Use Cases

[3] Soe Ye Yint Tun, Samaneh Madanian and Farhaan Mirza, 2020. “Internet of things (IoT) applications for elderly care: a reflective review

[4] Alessandra Fusco, 2022. “From Presence Detection to Vital Sensing: How to Develop Your IoT Solution Quickly

More by Clinton Emerhana

Clinton is a Hardware Design Engineer and a recipient of multiple writing awards. He previously served as a Lead Electronics Engineer at Arone Delivery and currently holds the position of Chief Technology Officer at Mijolnia, where he oversees the development of the Power Wall to power Africa. Clint...