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2014 Grants - Hoey
Affective and Cognitive Technologies for AssisTance in the HOME (ACT@HOME)
Jesse Hoey, Ph.D.
University of Waterloo
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
2014 Everyday Technologies for Alzheimer's Care
Individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease may eventually need assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as eating, dressing, and basic hygiene routines. Jesse Hoey, Ph.D., and colleagues have developed an artificially intelligent cognitive assistant (ICA), called COACH, that can assist individuals with Alzheimer’s having problems with ADLs. COACH monitors the person and provides audio-visual cues to help the person complete specific tasks like hand washing, making tea and tooth brushing. The researchers have found COACH to be effective in tracking and monitoring a person accurately, and appropriately prompting when needed. Although COACH can reduce the need for caregiver support, for some users it fails to provide appropriate assistance. The researchers hypothesize that this is mainly due to an emotional misalignment of COACH with specific individuals. For example, some people may prefer a more passive and polite caregiver tone, while others may respond better to a more active and dominant style of prompting.
Jesse Hoey, Ph.D., and colleagues aim to develop an emotionally intelligent version of COACH by revising its “canned” (pre-recorded) prompts. The researchers aim to tailor them by studying the methods and styles of human caregivers to ensure smoother and more effective user assimilation and response. To personalize the prompts to an individual’s preference, the researchers will use Affect Control Theory (ACT) — a sociocultural theory of emotional interactions between persons. This project will build precise models of emotional identity and personality into an existing cognitive assistant, and will demonstrate how this can improve the overall effectiveness and potential integration of such systems. The researchers believe that this level of emotional reasoning is one of the last major hurdles to overcome before intelligent cognitive assistants can be used in a widespread manner. This will translate into a better quality of life for both the patient and caregiver.