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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/W031809/1
Title: I'M-ACTIVE : Intelligent Multimodal Assessment and Coaching Through Identification of Vulnerabilities in older pEople
Principal Investigator: Di Nuovo, Professor A
Other Investigators:
Fowler Davis, Dr S V Zecca, Professor M Mitra, Professor S
Magistro, Dr D
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Age UK South Yorkshire & Bassetlaw ICS The Care Machine Ltd
Department: College of Business, Technology & Eng
Organisation: Sheffield Hallam University
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 January 2023 Ends: 30 November 2024 Value (£): 400,482
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Human-Computer Interactions Med.Instrument.Device& Equip.
Robotics & Autonomy
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
23 Feb 2022 SI Transform health at home Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Ageing is associated with an increased risk of comorbidities, poor physical functions, and cognitive decline, which in most cases leads to frailty. Frail older adults are twice as likely to need long-term hospitalisation and increased social care provision.

An active lifestyle can significantly reduce the risk of frailty, but the age-related physical and cognitive decline often limits motivation and ability to engage in purposeful activities/exercise. Encouraging frail older adults to be active daily using personalised feedback and prompts is extremely difficult, often because there is limited staff availability for therapeutic support and a lack of objective measurement of their daily activities to encourage them to keep being active and exercising.

Recent research that has shown that intelligent robotic technologies can provide services for independent leaving to older people, promote active and healthy lifestyle, and support social caring of older people. However, adoption and maturity of robotics solutions for social care is currently limited, mostly because of the "technology push" approach, i.e. new devices and robotic platforms are pushed through research and development without considering whether or not it satisfies users' aspirations and needs. The result of the "technology push" is that technologies are not adopted by most of the users or do not achieve the intended impact.

Unlike similar past projects, the I'M-ACTIVE project will follow a Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) approach with a strong focus on regular patient and people involvement and engagement that will put people at the core from the beginning to the end. Research in machine intelligence and healthcare sensor technologies will be guided from the beginning by stakeholders and users to create a user-friendly platform specifically designed to offer assistance to older adults at risk of frailty. The platform will be tailored to older adults needs to overcome the cognitive and physical barriers to increase acceptability and use of these new technologies among this population. Also, open events will be organised to increase the public awareness of benefits and limitations of the use of robotics and autonomous systems in social care.

Specifically, the project will study the design of a smart integrated system that can provide continuous tailored support to older adults to achieve and maintain an active and healthy lifestyle. The system intelligently merges information from wearable and nearable sensors with the friendly multimodal interaction (audio-visual, movement, gesture, and touch) of an affordable social robot to assess the physical and cognitive functions of the user at home. Furthermore, the system can provide an objective and comprehensive assessment on the user frailty status to practitioners and carers to inform personalised quality care.

The main innovations expected are: the objective assessment of home-based functional parameters to support self-management of the risk of frailty in older adults; the monitoring of physical, cognitive and social dimensions within the same instrument, combined with user preferences on data collection and sharing.

A feasibility study with older adults at risk of frailty will validate the acceptability and usability of the prototype in realistic scenarios and gather evidence on how a robotic platform can solicit users to obtain and maintain an active and successful healthy lifestyle.

The results and experience gained in this project will inform follow-up multidisciplinary research and technical development toward the integration of the I'M-ACTIVE system into the healthcare and specially to increase efficacy and efficiency of general practice in the UK, i.e. managing population health related to complex needs with older people in the community.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Organisation Website: http://www.shu.ac.uk