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DMU hosts global study into tech to transform older people's lives

Next-generation technology to transform the lives of older people around the world was the focus of a major conference hosted by De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).

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Scientists from across Europe gathered at DMU for the latest meeting of the ACROSSING project, a four-year study to develop smart and wearable devices to improve elderly patient care - and ease the pressure on medical and care services.  

The €3.88 million project began in 2016 and is being led by Professor Liming Chen, of De Montfort University Leicester (DMU)’s School of Computer Science and Informatics.

The research aims to develop devices using everyday technologies such as smartphones, tablets and wearable sensors – supported by behind the scenes artificial intelligence and data analytics.

Ideas being pursued include a smart watch to monitor the user’s vital signs, a smartphone to detect early signs of depression by analysing behaviour patterns, or a “smart home” fitted with sensors to monitor and detect subtle behaviour changes of occupants, spotting looming health issues and alerting relatives or healthcare professionals – all done unobtrusively and automatically.

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Successfully harnessing the power of technology for assisted living could have huge ramifications for stretched health care services around the globe.

ACROSSING brings together 10 partners from the UK, Spain, Germany, Austria, Greece and the Netherlands and 16 associated partners from Belgium, Italy, China, Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland, drawn from world-recognised research institutions, universities, and the ICT and healthcare industry.

Their studies are concentrated in four areas:

•    Helping people with chronic physical conditions such as arthritis
•    Empowering patients to better manage their condition
•    Early risk detection and patient wellbeing
•    Independent living for people with conditions such as dementia

Prof Chen is leading a team of 15 early stage researchers to work on 15 separate but complementary areas of research.

“This prestigious project has a real benefit for De Montfort University,” said Prof Chen. “It raises the profile and reputation of the university and it will prove our research is world-leading and world-recognised.

“We want to provide the tools that support independent living, so patients can remain in their home environment. The population is ageing, and this research isn’t just important in the United Kingdom, but right around the world.”

Funding for the ACROSSING project has come from the EU Horizon 2020 Marie Sklodowska-Curie European Training Network Programme. In addition to supporting research, the programme puts an emphasis on the training of future researchers.

Posted on Thursday 13th July 2017

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