Research and development
Do you sometimes find yourself thinking; “If only there was something that could help me with this”?
Perhaps you have some ideas about how assistive technology devices could be improved?
We would like visitors to this website to flag up any gaps in provision or to send us ideas of how existing products could be improved. We can then use this information to assist thinking about new products that could be developed, and to alert manufacturers on how to improve existing devices.
- AT4I Assistive Technology for Independence
- Bath Institute of Medical Engineering (BIME)
- Centre for Usable Home Technology
- CIRCA Project
- COGKNOW helping people with mild dementia navigate their day
- Communication and Dementia: How Talking Mats can help people with dementia to express themselves
- Coventry University Health Design & Technology Institute (HDTI)
- CPVS: Cell Phone Video Streaming in Alzheimer's disease
- DAISY Dynamic Assistive Information System
- Independent Project
- Intelligent Assistive Technology and Systems Lab (IATSL)
- KITE (Keeping In Touch Everyday)
- Match Project
- Networked carers - the role of technology in dementia care
- New Technology in Elderly Care Project (NTEC)
- Rehabilitation services for people with dementia
- SenseCam, Microsoft Research
- Supporting Independence: New Products, New Practices, New Communities
- Utopia Project
AT4I Assistive Technology for Independence
Assistive Technology for Independence assessed the impact of introducing technology to improve older people’s independence, social inclusion and health by looking at what happened when the Tunstall Group installed a variety of assistive technologies in a sheltered housing scheme in Doncaster. The scheme has 40 self contained dwellings and residents were offered their choice of four different packages of help including a ‘lifestyle reassurance package’ consisting of bed and chair occupancy sensors, passive infra-red movement detectors and door and electrical usage sensors; a ‘security package’ consisting of a front door CCTV community television network,intruder alarm, flood detectors and extreme heat sensors; a ‘falls package’ consisting of fall detectors and an automatic light switch; and a ‘specialist devices’ package which offered more specialist items such as a wandering client system, epilepsy bed sensor, strobe light alert or vibrating pillow alert.
Bath Institute of Medical Engineering (BIME)
BIME is a design and development charity working alongside various partners to promote and establish the potential of using new technology in the field of dementia care. Their first project was the Gloucester Smart House, a collaborative project with Dementia Voice and Housing 21. This was followed by the ENABLE project to provide a series of stand alone items of technology for people with dementia. More recently BIME is a partner in the INDEPENDENT project (see below).
Centre for Usable Home Technology
The Centre for Usable Home Technology draws together interdisciplinary research teams and works in collaboration with older and disabled people to ensure that future home technologies meet real social and personal needs. The centre has a 3 bedroom bungalow at the University of York to demonstrate and test various technologies in a domestic setting. Technologies include a rise and fall sink; a telecare monitoring system; a fridge that can give spoken advice about its content; an easy to use mobile phone with just two buttons; and a TV screen saver that acts as a message board and photo board.
Researchers at Dundee University have developed the Computer Interactive Reminiscence and Conversation Aid (CIRCA). This is a computer programme that allows people with dementia and their carers to select photos, video clips and music via a touch screen, with the aim of facilitating communication and reminiscence. The touch screen gives people with dementia the opportunity to direct interactions and make their own choices about what they want to see or hear.
COGKNOW helping people with mild dementia navigate their day
COGKNOW is a three year European project which aims to develop solutions that help people with early dementia to experience greater autonomy and feelings of empowerment, and to enjoy an enhanced quality of life. The aim is to assist people to remember, maintain social contact, perform daily life activities and enhance their feelings of safety through cognitive reinforcement technologies. The core objective of COGKNOW is to achieve a breakthrough in the development of a successful, user-validated cognitive prosthetic device with associated services for people with mild dementia.
Communication and Dementia: How Talking Mats can help people with dementia to express themselves
Communication and Dementia: How Talking Mats can help people with dementia to express themselves by Joan Murphy, Cindy M Gray and Sylvia Cox. Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
The Report assesses howTalking Mats, a low-tech communication tool, may be effective as a way of helping people at different stages of dementia to express their views. The study involved 31 people who were each interviewed about their well-being using both Talking Mats, a system of simple picture symbols, and usual communication methods. The researchers compared the effectiveness of each method and found that Talking Mats improved the ability of people at all stages of dementia to communicate, compared to usual communication methods; and also reduced repetitive behaviour and helped to keep participants engaged in conversation.
Coventry University Health Design & Technology Institute (HDTI)
At Coventry University Health Design & Technology Institute, we support the development of new and innovative community healthcare products. Focusing on the ageing population and people with disabilities and chronic health conditions, we provide design, prototyping and user-centred product evaluation services to entrepreneurial individuals and companies developing new technologies in this area.
HDTI's activities bring together businesses, healthcare practitioners, academics and end users to focus on four key integrated areas:
- The design and validation of products and services required for improved healthcare in the community
- Research with practitioners and industry
- Training of community-based healthcare professionals, carers and self-managing patients
- The delivery of new multidisciplinary courses in design and healthcare.
Please visit our website: www.coventry.ac.uk/hdti or more details.
CPVS: Cell Phone Video Streaming in Alzheimer's disease
The CPVS project addresses the memory problems which are the most common cognitive deficits in Alzheimer's disease by developing a system which provides a wide range of memory cues. Through the use of a specially equipped, easy-to-use mobile phone, a 'virtual' caregiver becomes a regular presence in the home. Throughout the day, the person with Alzheimer's disease receives automatic, video streaming, individualized messages from the caregiver about everyday issues (e.g., reminders about medications, directions for getting prepared meals ready and prompts about tasks to accomplish). The person receiving care is trained to use a modified keypad to acknowledge each video message, and the signal is sent to a central unit for monitoring to check on the person's activities.
The long term goal is to create a means of supporting people with Alzheimer's disease so that they can continue to live independently, by providing prompts for the tasks involved in daily activities.
DAISY Dynamic Assistive Information System
DAISY Dynamic Assistive Information System builds on an earlier feasibility project calledDIMPLE also carried out by the Accessibility Group at University College, London. Its aim is toenhance the independence of people with learning difficulties who require pre-and in-tripinformation about pedestrian and public transport journeys by ‘industrialising’ the DIMPLEsoftware to provide an easy to use navigation tool based on an ordinary mobile phone.The DAISY project has developed a way of combining a Global Positioning System (GPS) with the use of images to provide a very accurate but simple positioning system which is then coupled to advice (via voice or text) to the user about where to go next. This is encapsulated in a mobile phone. The system proved easy to master and people with learning difficulties were pleased with the trial version of the system when they tested it.
The Independent project aims to develop technology and design solutions that help enable people with dementia to live independently, to empower them and to improve their quality of life wherever they live. The project is a collaboration between BIME and Liverpool and Sheffield Universities, together with links to users through Dementia Voice and Community Care in Northampton. Survey work with people with dementia and their personal and professional carers has led to the development of a single button CD player; ‘window on the world’; conversation prompter and a sequence assisting device.
Intelligent Assistive Technology and Systems Lab (IATSL)
IATSL develops assistive technology that is adaptive, flexible and intelligent, enabling users to participate fully in their daily lives. Based in the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at the University of Toronto, IATSL is a multi-disciplinary group of researchers with backgrounds in engineering, computer science, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and gerontology. Their research includes:
- Intelligent Supportive Environments for ADL Prompting with Older Adults (COACH)
- Efficacy of Visual Prompting Among Older Adults with Dementia
- Identifying Effective Communication Strategies Utilized by Caregivers interacting with Individuals Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease
KITE (Keeping In Touch Everyday)
KITE (Keeping In Touch Everyday) is a research project which aims to explore the views of people with dementia and their carers about: i) the use of technology to ensure safe walking; ii) the acceptability of existing devices to people with dementia and their carers and iii) how, such technology can be improved. The project will then focus on the design and development of an ‘Assistive Technology’ solution that will address the needs of individuals living with, and coping with, dementia. Several types of technology will be considered, including but not limited to: electronic switches/ sensors on doors and gates; wireless technology (Bluetooth, MOTES, etc); GSM Personal Information Technology; GPS satellite positioning technology. The project is hosted by the Centre of Excellence for Life Sciences in North East England.
MATCH (Mobilising Advanced Technologies for Care at Home) is a collaborative research project focused on technologies for care at home. The project has specialised expertise in home care networks, lifestyle monitoring, speech communication, and assistive technology (devices for disabilities). The intended end users are those at home with long-term illness, physical or mental impairment.
Mylife aims to support independence for older people with reduced cognitive function such as mild cognitive impairment or dementia by giving them access to simple and intuitive internet services. The services offered by Mylife support time orientation, communication and entertainment. These are displayed in an accessible design on the person's touch screen. Mylife can be adapted to the person's needs and wishes through a carers administration website.
Mylife is an Ambient Assisted Living Joint Programme (AAL JP) project and is being carried out by consortium partners in Norway, Germany and the UK.
Networked carers - the role of technology in dementia care
Networked Carers researchers at Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Partnership Trust and the University of Warwick are investigating the current and future use of technology by carers of people with dementia. They are asking carers, especially family members and friends of people with dementia, about their experiences and opinions of new and networked technologies. These include the internet, telecare systems, and other technologies linking people and services in different locations. They are also seeking the views of people working with carers. The results are intended to inform policy and new developments.
New Technology in Elderly Care Project (NTEC)
NTEC is a project to evaluate the benefits of new technology aids and devices for older people living in the community, hospitals, residential and nursing homes. The Project is a joint venture between London Borough of Ealing, Ealing Family Housing Association, Hammersmith Hospitals Trust and Imperial College London. The aids and devices that are being evaluated include: video monitoring systems; electronic tagging; electronic tracking; bed monitors; chair monitors; health monitors; and fall detectors.
Rehabilitation services for people with dementia
Rehabilitation services for people with dementia was a three year project involving researchers from the University of the West of England and Dementia Voice.The aims of this study were to: identify the range of specialist rehabilitation services for older people with dementia in England; explore how general rehabilitation services meet the needs of older people with dementia; establish inclusion and exclusion criteria to rehabilitation services in relation to the existence of dementia; illustrate specialist models of successful approach to rehabilitation for this user group; gain feedback on rehabilitation services from older people with dementia and their carers; and develop guidance and recommendations for planners, commissioners and providers seeking to establish intermediate specialist mental health services for people with dementia. The project produced a Service Development Checklist to highlight a range of issues that might be considered when developing rehabilitation services for people with dementia.
Safe2walk. Alzheimer's Australia WA is conducting research into the use of a GPS enabled one touch mobile phone developed specifically for people living with dementia. The Safe2Walk project is evaluating the use of this technology to support social inclusion, maintain self determination and reduce carer burden. Issues around ethical use, emergency service usage and importance of independence are also being considered.www.safe2walk.com.au
SenseCam, Microsoft Research
SenseCam, Microsoft Research. SenseCam is a wearable digital camera that is designed to take photographs passively, without user intervention, while it is being worn. Following the outcome of a 2005 trial at the Memory Clinic and Memory Aids Clinic at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge; Microsoft has set up a number of collaboration projects with academic and medical memory experts to address specific research questions and further understanding of how SenseCam appears to give such dramatic results in improving memory recall. As part of the collaboration, Microsoft is providing over $550,000 funding including SenseCam devices, software and support to facilitate a number of projects.
Supporting Independence: New Products, New Practices, New Communities
The UTOPIA Project researches the relationship between older people and technology. The project is a consortium of four universities: Dundee, Abertay, Glasgow and Napier. Consortium partners have expertise in the design and development of usable technology for older people. They are exploring a number of areas (leisure, memory aids, exercise, virtual companions) to see what products older people would want to use, and what products they could benefit from.
Supporting Independence: New Products, New Practices, New Communities was a three year EPSRC-funded project involving researchers at Barnsley Hospital, Imperial College London, University College London and Dundee University, as well as representatives from the charity sector including Age Concern, Anchor Trust and the Thomas Pocklington Trust and commercial partners including the Tunstall Group. The team is evaluating the deployment of a variety of telecare technologies in three contrasting housing settings: a large-scale care village, an extracare facility and the mainstream private sector housing stock.