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 Sensors embedded in sports equipment could provide real-time analytics to your smartphone
16.02.2017 | University of Illinois College of Engineering

nachricht Researchers catch extreme waves with higher-resolution modeling
15.02.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Switched-on DNA

20.02.2017 | Materials Sciences

Second cause of hidden hearing loss identified

20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

Prospect for more effective treatment of nerve pain

20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>