Motion Energy (ME) – Microsoft Kinect in Healthcare

My mother passed away from cancer in 2011. During her final days, she was comatose and needed to be moved frequently. The movement was not enough to prevent bed sores, otherwise known as pressure ulcers. Pressure ulcers are caused by pressure that limits blood flow to skin and surrounding tissues. This experience is burned into my memory, and as a designer and technologist I wanted to explore ways to prevent others from suffering as my mother did. I was shocked to find that, in the United States alone, more than $10 billion is spent annually on the treatment of pressure ulcers. Could technology be used to help? Yes it can.

I led an internal R&D effort to explore the use of Microsoft Kinect camera technology to monitor the amount of motion over a period of time. The goal was to identify and measure how much motion was happening, and then report when a lack of motion occurred. We call the amount of motion detected Motion Energy, or ME for short. If a lack of ME is detected over a period of time, a nurse would be automatically notified with an ME event. As the exploration continued, I found studies related to patients falling out of their beds and hurting themselves. I began to wonder if a lack of motion could be monitored, could too much motion also be monitored? The answer is also yes.


The studies related to patient falls are reporting that more than $20 billion is spent annually on the treatment related to injuries suffered from the fall. The same ME technology used for monitoring a lack of motion can detect when a motion spike is occurring. A nurse can be immediately notified about the event and an attempt can be made to prevent the patient from falling or further injuring themselves after a fall by providing immediate assistance.


This video shows an example of the core ME technology:

We envision a system that can be placed into a patient’s room that would passively monitor them. When too little or too much motion is detected, a ME event would be generated by the system. This ME event would be sent to a Cloud backed system to log the event. The on call nurse would be notified on a mobile device immediately of the ME event, and an action can be taken. From the mobile device, a video feed from the patient’s room could be viewed when the ME event occurred (e.g. for a patient’s fall). The video event can also be stored in the cloud with the ME event.

We believe a system like this could not only prevent suffering but improve patient satisfaction. Dollars saved from prevention would more than offset the cost of the system within the first year of use. If you would like more information about Motion Energy, or discuss other potential uses for Motion Energy, please contact us at

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