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IoT, AI and robotics to support people living with dementia

Written by Wed 17 Apr 2019

Prescription technologies could become available to dementia patients within the next decade

GPs could begin prescribing a raft of new technologies tailored to people living with dementia to help them live at home for longer, researchers say.

Scientists at the new £20 million Care Research & Technology Centre at Imperial College London will develop sensors, AI, analytics and robotics technologies to develop dementia-friendly ‘Healthy Homes’ and use the data created to better understand how dementia develops.

“The GP might have a dashboard of different apps or different ways of engaging with people that they select, and then give a personalised package of apps that are particularly relevant to individuals,” said Professor David Sharp, head of the new centre.

“You might have your dementia engineer come over and deploy the technology into your home, and that would provide the kind of information that we are talking about,” he added. “This may sound like science fiction, but I think many of the elements of this are in place.”


As part of the research effort, sensed IoT devices placed around the house or on a patient’s body will be developed that measure body temperature, blood pressure and other vital signs.

Researchers intend to use these sensors — some of which will be smaller than a hearing aid — to collect novel data about gait, brain activity and sleep that might also benefit future research.

Combining the latest machine learning techniques, they will then develop models that integrate this patient data and alert for changes, such as a change in walking pattern that might suggest a patient is at risk of a fall.

Neuroscientific techniques will also be developed that allow medical teams to track memory, cognitive function and sleep quality, and researchers plan to install domestic robotic devices that alert patients to safety risks and notify healthcare teams of significant behaviour changes.

“The technologies involved in this project will enable people to live independently at home whilst not sacrificing their care,” said Professor Payam Barnaghi, deputy director of the new centre.

Prototypes will be produced by engineers, tested with patients in a controlled setting, and then rolled out to a larger group to try out at home, researchers said.

Around 850,000 people in the UK are living with dementia, with the number expected to rise to one million by 2025.

An estimated one in four hospital beds are occupied by people with dementia and 20 percent of these admissions are preventable, the researchers said.

Written by Wed 17 Apr 2019


dementia healthcare
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