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Smart-home systems should improve the quality of life of its users while protecting their privacy

Gochoo M, Alnajjar F, Tan TH, Khalid S. Towards privacy-preserved aging in place: A systematic review Sensors. 2021;21(9):3082.   

Review question

  • What are the different types of technology-based strategies available to help older adults living independently in their homes, and to what extent do these technologies protect the privacy of their users?


How the review was done

  • A detailed search of a number of electronic databases was conducted for studies published between 2010 and 2020. Studies that focused on the elderly, aging in place, independent living, smart homes, and privacy protection were included.
  • A total of 1,319 studies were identified in searches and 31 were included in the review after assessments for eligibility.
  • This study was funded by a research grant by the College of Information Technology, United Arab Emirates University.

What the researchers found

  • There is a compromise between utility and feasibility in smart home monitoring systems. Systems with a lot of monitoring devices are expensive and difficult to install, while systems with too few monitoring devices might not be able to monitor all activities.
  • Smart-home systems need more mechanisms to protect user privacy and data security. Techniques that use sensors and machine learning instead of cameras can provide users with more privacy.
  • The use of robots with sensory technology can improve multiple aspects of their quality of life. Robots can be programmed to help in daily living activities, while sensors are used to monitor the home environment.


  • None of these studies implemented an entire smart home (as opposed to adding a few smart devices to an existing home). Future studies on smart homes should examine individual privacy, sensor-based monitoring, assistance in daily activities, connecting to caregivers, emergency assistance and predicting depression.  

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DISCLAIMER These summaries are provided for informational purposes only. They are not a substitute for advice from your own health care professional. The summaries may be reproduced for not-for-profit educational purposes only. Any other uses must be approved by the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal (

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