Butlr Awarded Grant From National Institute on Aging for Earlier Detection of Frailty and Prevention of Falls Among Senior Adults

Patented Body Heat-Based Sensors to Shape Research at University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Artificial Intelligence and Technology Center and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Collaboratory

Butlr, the world’s first and only ambient monitoring platform, today announced that its participation in the a2 Pilot Awards Competition has resulted in a research grant from the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Artificial Intelligence and Technology Center (MassAITC) for Connected Care in Aging & Alzheimer’s Disease. The research will be conducted at the Senior Health Practice at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) using Butlr’s patented body heat sensing technology for early frailty detection among older adults.

Frailty is potentially preventable if it’s identified at an earlier stage. As frailty progresses, it requires clinical care, social support and modified living environments. To prevent and slow progression of frailty, early detection can be achieved by measuring key movement features of frailty: gait speed, walking distance, physically active time, indoor time, and sedentary time in a free-living home environment. Once the research is validated, it will make early detection of frailty possible.

“As the population of people aged 60 years or older is expected to double by 2050, representing 2.1 billion people according to the World Health Organization, technology will play an increasingly important role in prevention and early interventions to improve quality of life and support healthy aging in place,” said Professor Margie Lachman, Ph.D., of Brandeis University and investigator with the MassAITC, who advises the research team. “Butlr’s role in frailty research is invaluable. It will provide important insights that can be translated for real-world applications to reduce the risk of falls and promote good functional health.”

As part of the research, BIDMC will enroll 60 older adults with various levels of frailty. Butlr’s palm-sized sensors, which magnetically mount to the wall or ceiling, will be placed in the study participants’ homes for two weeks. The combination of Butlr’s patented body heat-based sensors with the artificial intelligence of things (AIoT) enables the sensors to measure real-time movement without compromising individual privacy. Insights from the sensors provide spatial intelligence for early identification of unusual changes in activity and movement patterns.

The research team, led by Amanda Paluch, Ph.D., from the UMass Amherst, and Dae Hyun Kim, MD, ScD, from BIDMC, includes experts in geriatrics, physical activity, and kinesiology. The team will use the insights from Butlr’s sensors to develop algorithms for key activity and movement features of frailty against accelerometry-based and clinical assessments of frailty.

“Recognizing that value-based care is a top priority among healthcare providers and insurers, we designed our technology to support the entire circle of care. The sensors understand movement and unusual activity without the need for wearables or cameras that compromise privacy,” said Honghao Deng, CEO and co-founder, Butlr. “It’s an honor to be selected for this collaboration, and we hope Butlr’s research into gait speed and frailty will ultimately result in better outcomes for older adults to age in place or at a facility with grace and dignity.” 

Research reported in this press release was supported by the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) under award number P30AG073107. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.

About the a2 Pilot Awards
The national a2 Pilot Awards competition is hosted annually by the a2 Collective and funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health, through the AITC for Aging Research program. NIA has earmarked $40 million to fund technology demonstration projects that utilize artificial intelligence (AI) approaches and technology to improve care and health outcomes for older Americans, including persons with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias (AD/ADRD), and their caregivers.

About Butlr
Spun out of the MIT Media Lab in 2019 with offices in Silicon Valley and Boston, Butlr was founded by Forbes 30 Under 30 entrepreneurs Honghao Deng and Jiani Zeng with a mission to make the built environment people-aware. The company’s award-winning people sensing platform uses body heat and machine learning to detect occupancy, headcount and activity, and generate accurate, real-time and historical spatial insights while being incapable of collecting personally identifiable information. Butlr’s patented technology architecture makes for easy deployment in minutes with a low total cost of ownership. Commercial real estate, senior living facilities and insurance providers rely on Butlr to drive better space utilization, optimize pricing, streamline operations, and improve the user experience. For more information, www.butlr.com 

Source: Butlr