Dementia affects more than 35 million people worldwide, a number that is expected to almost double every 20 years. It is such a significant challenge that the G7 “Global Action Against Dementia” has declared providing support to people with dementia as a global challenge that must be solved immediately. The G7, supported by significant research and clinical findings, stated that technology will be one of the solutions in supporting this demographic. Robotics has recently been seen as a potential solution in supporting older adults with dementia. Robots have been developed that can provide remote monitoring, support during common self-care activities, socialization capabilities, and cognitive stimulation. However, we have yet to see a truly effective robotic system be made available on the market.

Previous research by our team and others in the field have identified key functions that technology, including robotics, should include in order to best support an older adult with dementia in their own homes. These include: 1) the ability to communicate with healthcare providers and family; 2) the ability to monitor the completion of common activities of daily living and provide prompts and reminders as necessary; and 3) the ability to monitor the safety of the older adult, and automatically detect adverse events such as falls. Currently, it is nearly impossible to include all of these functions on a single robotic platform due to the increase need for computational capabilities that will result in a very complex system, and more importantly, result in a system that is too costly to purchase. We will work with our industry partner CrossWing, Inc. to advance the systems that we have developed and to integrate them into one system delivered on CrossWing’s new robotic platform with the three capabilities described previously—1) tele-medicine/presence; 2) activity monitoring and prompting; 3) safety monitoring and emergency response. We will overcome the aforementioned limitations faced by other robotics initiatives through the novel approach of using the SHARCNET’S Cloud Analytics Platform to add these applications to CrossWing’s platform without the need for additional extensive computing resources located locally on the robot. If successful, this project will result in the first commercially available, multi-functional mobile robotic platform that includes the applications that have been identified as necessary in supporting older adults with dementia in their own homes and communities.

Industry Partner(s):CrossWing Inc.

Academic Institution:University of Toronto

Academic Researcher: Alex Mihailidis

Co-PI Name: François Michaud

Focus Areas: Digital Media, Health

Platforms: Cloud