Research and development


Wish list

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.

Please send your thoughts and ideas to us.


Research projects

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 and Care 21. This was followed by the ENABLE project to provide a series of stand alone items of technology for people with dementia.

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.

CIRCA Project

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

This report by Joan Murphy, Cindy M Gray and Sylvia Cox, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, assesses how Talking 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.

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.

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:

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 Project

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

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.

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.

SenseCam, Microsoft Research

SenseCam by Microsoft Research 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.

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