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October 5, 2018

“Amazon Echo for the elderly”: AI solution to help in home care

By Priya Kantaria

The growing problem of care for the elderly could be solved by artificial intelligence assistive technology, with an Amazon Echo-like piece of kit called the miiCUBE from health tech startup miiCARE. Providing AI for the elderly, it provides an alternative to traditional solutions.

People over 65 are regularly understood to be tech-phobic, but the AI-based miiCUBE could help provide care that means they can stay at home rather than move to dedicated care facilities.

Artificial intelligence tech can detect risks to the elderly

There has been an increasing problem of care for the elderly as the younger generation looks to the government to uphold parents’ right to care at home while NHS and social care budgets spiral out of control.

The cuboid technology uses sensors around the home to detect the user’s activities and environment and alerts family, care professionals or the user themselves on a bracelet if needed.

The miiCUBE would notice if a user was going to the toilet more often and link that with other behaviours to see if they might have developed diabetes or a urinary infection, and that risk would be alerted to a carer.

If the user suffered a fall, did not get up from their bed or missed a meal or two, the tech would also notice. It also has a single button that can operate as a panic alert.

Elderly often want technology to adapt to them

MiiCARE founder and chief executive officer Kelvin Summoogum developed the AI assistive technology when his grandmother suffered a fall and was unable to reach help.

He said: “If you think about what the elderly have at the moment, those who live at home, most of them don’t have anyone around. They don’t have technology, and a big portion of them have a big fear of technology. If you talk about technology they don’t want to hear about it.

“What we’ve done, is spend about a year with a group of the elderly and really understood what their needs are, and if we were to give them technology what would that technology do. One of the main themes has been that they’re not going to change their lifestyles, their routines, to adapt to the technology. The technology has to adapt to them.

“We’ve used that theme to develop our solution. It is based on artificial intelligence where it learns about the elderly person and as soon as it’s completed the learning process it monitors any changes to the normal behaviour.”

Working with the NHS to deliver a tech solution to elderly care

MiiCARE now needs to push the tech into living environments so that the tech can gather data about general behaviours and then be optimised.

It is already working with the NHS and plans to continue cooperating with the professionals to bring awareness of the tech to the elderly.

It is a technology partner to the NHS for the dementia village, Community Areas of Sustainable Care and Dementia Excellence in Europe (CASCADE) project.

CASCADE is a £3.5m village to be built in July 2019 in Dover, which plans to house 30 elderly people and help them live as independently as possible with onsite facilities and nurses available.

The problem of loneliness is also something miiCARE hopes to help with, using the entertainment features of the miiCUBE to play music and remind users of social events.

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