Drs. Kenneth Law and Mutaz Aldawoud, GPs at the Hillside Bridge Health Centre in Bradford, attended the 19 November launch of the Centre for Assistive Technology and Connected Healthcare (CATCH). Here is their report, with your Editors’ appreciation and thanks!
The Centre for Assistive Technology and Connected Healthcare (CATCH) was officially launched on 19th November in Millennium Galleries in Sheffield. The launch offered an opportunity to explore the exciting research being undertaken at CATCH, based at the University of Sheffield, to help people live independently.“What’s special about CATCH is that by integrating researchers from so many different fields, we are able to look at the whole picture – not simply the technical issues, but also how a technology can help improve or reduce the costs of healthcare and how it can respond to the needs of the people who will use it,” said Professor Mark Hawley, CATCH’s Director.
A number of key flagship technologies on display at the launch included NANA and VIVOCA. NANA (Novel Assessment of Nutrition and Ageing) is a touch screen system to keep track of what they are eating and drinking. NANA also collects information on a person’s cognitive function, mood and physical activity to provide a holistic picture of their well-being. [Additional information and video is here–Ed.] The VIVOCA (Voice Input Voice Output Communication Aid) device uses speech recognition and synthesis technology to recognise and interpret disordered speech and then communicate what its users want to say in a clear, synthesised voice, giving the person and their carer back some of their independence. [Additional explanation and brief slide presentation is here.]
According to Prof Hawley, life expectancy has gone up progressively over the past sixty years. We have 15 million people living with more than one long term condition, accounting for 70% of total health care spending. Assistive technology will have a major impact in future health care.
The event was very well attended and the event was kick started by Professor Gill Valentine who introduced the driving force behind CATCH. It was followed by a keynote talk from Professor Geoff Fernie, Principal Investigator at iDAPT (Intelligent Design for Adaptation, Participation and Technology). Unfortunately, Prof. Fernie suffered an accident last week and was unable to attend the event from Canada. However, his recorded presentation provided an interesting insight in technology research and we saw a number of demonstrations from this $36 million initiative at the University of Toronto consisting of 15 cutting-edge labs, workshops and other research spaces in Toronto Rehab. In the home lab, for instance, engineers are testing a computerised monitor that can detect when a resident has fallen, “talk” to them about what help they need, then call the required emergency services for them. Toronto Rehab Foundation/iDAPT, iDAPT at Toronto Rehab YouTube videos.
CATCH was set up to identify and understand personal health and social needs of people at home, working closely with users, carers and health care professionals. It also aimed to harness advances in science and engineering to create the next generation of assistive and healthcare technology. Finally, through co-developing and evaluating prototype technologies with user groups and clinical professionals to ensure meaningful use of research results to benefit user populations.
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