Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A team at UPC creates an intelligent walker to assist the elderly and people undergoing medical rehabilitation

10.11.2008
A team of researchers from the Departments of Software, Automatic Control, Strength of MaMechanical Engineering, Materials and Structural Engineering at the Technical University of Catalonia (UPC), led by Ulises Cortés and Antonio B. Martínez, has designed an intelligent walker (i-Walker) that goes a step beyond conventional walkers as it can communicate with the user, think for itself and react to the environment.

The device can understand a set of voice commands and can be activated by means of simple verbal instructions given by the user (e.g., "take me to the kitchen"). To do this, it includes elements for independent movement and a personalized intelligent software agent.

This tool is based on intelligent multiagent systems technology (personal agents or software systems that observe and interact with their surroundings independently, proactively and rationally and have the ability to learn and communicate). It adapts to the specific assistance requirements of the people who use it and enhances their autonomy by helping them to take decisions that are usually beyond their scope due to physical, mobility or cognitive obstacles imposed by ageing or their illness.

The i-Walker can be used for medical rehabilitation as it can help in the recovery and strengthening of motor skills by allowing the amount of aid provided to the user to be adjusted under medical supervision. Parameters such as the effort made by the user in walking, the distance travelled and the calories burned during movement are recorded and measured by the walker. The system uses an accelerometer to detect possible falls, correct itineraries and turning angles and control braking.

The device is part of the European project Supported Human Autonomy for Recovery and Enhancement of Cognitive and Motor Abilities Using Information Technologies (SHARE-it), led by Ulises Cortés. The project is part of the Sixth Framework Programme and the Information Society Technologies programme, within the area of Ambient Assisted Living.

Universities, research centres, healthcare centres and companies from Spain, Italy, Germany and Romania are taking part in the project. They include UPC, the University of Malaga, the University of Bremen (Germany), Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz GmbH (Germany), the Ana Aslan International Academy of Aging (Romania), Fondazione Santa Lucia (Italy), Centro Assistenza Domiciliare Azienda Sanitaria Locale RM B (Italy) and Telefónica Investigación y Desarrollo.

SHARE-it: Intelligent Mechanisms for the Home
The main objective of the SHARE-it project is to contribute to developing a new generation of intelligent and semiautonomous welfare technology systems that can be integrated in homes and other places such as hospitals and geriatric institutions. This is new technology that provides mobility support for people who require continuous assistance or monitoring to help them to live autonomously with the highest level of safety and comfort, in short, to increase their quality of life.

The technology includes systems for facilitating communication, intelligent behaviour and mobility support that are intuitive and can interpret the voice, sight, touch and gestures of the user. These systems can provide assistance to users in their daily activities and report their state of health to the people caring for them via monitoring and mobile systems.

Wheelchair and mobility platform
As well as the intelligent walker, the SHARE-it project is also developing other welfare devices: a semiautonomous wheelchair (Roland III) capable of operating both indoors and outdoors and an innovative semiautomatic platform (Spherik) based on a new type of spherical wheel designed for movement in small spaces.

The three mobile systems—walker, wheelchair and platform—can detect the position of the patient in the home and in other known environments such as hospitals and primary-care centres as they include a special monitoring system. They can also adapt their autonomy to the requirements of the user by means of a cognitive model based on interpretation of the information provided by the biosensors and on the person's disability profiles provided by a medical team. This allows them to provide the carers with continuous information on the user's state of health.

Technology that provides welfare
Welfare technology, particularly innovative technology for the elderly, is an emerging area of research in which there is a great need for innovation, especially considering that Spain will have the most elderly population on the planet by 2050 (43% of the population over the age of 60). Currently, 32% of people in Spain over the age of 65 suffer from some kind of disability. The link between age and disability is becoming stronger because life expectancy is increasing. People are living longer thanks to advances in medicine, but there are also more people who have survived severe illnesses and who suffer from chronic disability.

Robotics, artificial intelligence and information and communication technology—such as that included in the intelligent walker developed by UPC—can compensate for the loss of sensory, motor and cognitive functions caused by the passage of time and by disease in the elderly. They can also help to reinforce and stimulate human skills and improve well-being in daily life.

Rossy Laciana | alfa
Further information:
http://www.upc.edu/saladepremsa

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Snake-inspired robot uses kirigami to move
22.02.2018 | Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

nachricht Camera technology in vehicles: Low-latency image data compression
22.02.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Nachrichtentechnik, Heinrich-Hertz-Institut, HHI

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Attoseconds break into atomic interior

A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.

In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...

Im Focus: Good vibrations feel the force

A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.

By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Basque researchers turn light upside down

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator

23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Attoseconds break into atomic interior

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>