People with dementia will be supported by an emotionally responsive ‘virtual assistant’ created by scientists from the University of Waterloo
The emotional disconnect of patients affected by Alzheimer’s disease can find relief in the latest technology currently developed by Canadian researchers.
ACT@Home prototype combines artificial intelligence with pre-studied social and psychological models, in order to predict the behavior triggered by progressive cognitive decline, and help the ones in need of day-to-day assistance.
Jesse Hoey, Associate Professor at the University of Waterloo, studied the emotional mapping of the people affected by the disease and interviewed paired patients and caregivers, so that his scientific team could better understand interactions, communication and day-to-day needs of both categories.
“We’re trying to build a map of the person’s identity, so who are the different people that they have been in the past and who they are right now,” Professor Hoey explains.
By using samples of voice inflexions, facial expressions and the biography of the person to be assisted, the AI will be capable to have a useful reaction to various life situations and maybe one day replace caregivers. ACT@Home might help better manage stress, increase the quality of life and the independence rate for all the family members of people diagnosed with different stages of the illness.
“We’re trying to provide tools for these people to use that will help them to help this person, and take away this burden from them so they can do a little less,” Dr. Hoey added.
Moreover, Professor Hoey is confident that the technology inside Home will one day be able to help more than just Alzheimer’s patients, such as people living with Down Syndrome, other types of dementia and even traumatic brain injury or its sequelae.