A £2.7 million project is to use artificial intelligence to adapt and personalise live radio, with the aim of transforming life for people living alone with dementia.
Radio Me will address key causes of hospital admission for people with dementia, such as agitation and not taking medication correctly. As a result, it is hoped quality of life will improve, and people will be able to remain living independently at home for longer.
The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)-funded project will capitalise on the popularity of radio among the age group most likely to be living with dementia, developing a way to seamlessly ‘remix’ live digital broadcast so that listeners will receive personalised reminders, information and music.
Running for 50 months, Radio Me will be trialled among people with dementia in Cambridgeshire and Sussex. The project, which is being led by researchers from the University of Plymouth, is a partnership between the University’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research (ICCMR), and the Centre for Dementia Studies at Brighton and Sussex Medical School, the Glasgow Interactive Systems group at the University of Glasgow, and the Cambridge Institute for Music Therapy Research at Anglia Ruskin University.
Using a commercial bio-bracelet to measure physical signs like heart rate, as well as wireless speakers and an internet connection, Radio Me output will be produced in users’ homes by artificial intelligence software to be created at the University of Plymouth. An electronic diary completed by users and their carers will also be a key element.
The project includes a substantial ethical element, with significant time and money built in to ensure the technology is developed and co-designed with people with dementia, and is not open to misuse.
“Radio Me builds on research carried out as part of our previous EPSRC-funded project into a Brain Computer Music Interface, as well as our work on artificial intelligence, music influencing emotion, and the University’s long-running involvement in shaping national policy on dementia.
“Helping people with dementia to stay in their homes for as long as possible, even if they live alone, is a key aim of the project. Technology exists to display reminders about vital daily tasks, but research has shown older adults find modern electronic devices difficult to use, and people with dementia have particular problems.”
Dr Kirke said:
“Radio Me will create and use cutting-edge technology, but users will experience it through the familiar and reassuring medium of radio. It is an exciting and hugely innovative project, and a real vote of confidence in our research and the University.
“Our partners in Radio Me are all experts in their fields. Some, like BBC Radio Devon and the Alzheimer’s Society, we have worked with in the past, and we look forward to continuing these relationships and building new ones as the project progresses.”