RadioMe is being led by Professor Eduardo Miranda from the University's Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research (ICCMR) and leading dementia researcher and Executive Dean of the University's Faculty of Health, Professor Sube Banerjee. It builds on the substantial research into Brain-Computer Music Interface (BCMI) technology, artificial intelligence, music influencing emotion and the University's long-running involvement in shaping national policy on dementia.
RadioMe is a £2.7 million project that will use artificial intelligence to adapt and personalise live radio, with the aim of transforming the lives of people living alone with dementia.
It 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. Funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), it 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 four years, RadioMe will be trialled among people with dementia in Cambridgeshire and Sussex. 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.
Using a commercial bio-bracelet to measure physical signs like heart rate, as well as wireless speakers and an internet connection, RadioMe 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.
RadioMe is led by the University of Plymouth's Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research (ICCMR) and Centre for Health Technology, and works with 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.
Non-academic partners also include Sussex Partnership NHS Trust, the Alzheimer’s Society, MHA, Bauer Media and CereProc. BBC Research and Development and BBC Radio Devon have also been heavily involved in the project.
How RadioMe could work
A user switching on the radio in the morning might find their usual local station. But then, at a point dictated by the electronic diary, and at the start of a song, a DJ-like voice could override the real DJ and remind the listener to have a drink, take medicine, attend a memory café or anything else.
Another time, RadioMe might detect that the listener is becoming agitated via their bio-bracelet readings.
The software could then override the scheduled song choice and select a song from the user's personal library, known to be likely to calm them. Calming material could continue to be played until RadioMe detects the user is no longer agitated.
Research at the University of Plymouth
Eduardo's research has generated international media coverage in addressing the well-being of people with neurodegenerative conditions. He has developed musical algorithms that are controlled by electrical signals from the brain to allow severely disabled former musicians to make music, and ‘biocomputers’ which use live organisms as processors and in a performance context, exhibit behaviour more compatible with our own than conventional computers. RadioMe builds on this research, looking to aid people with dementia who live alone.
“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.”
Professor Banerjee has a notable background in clinical leadership and has worked nationally and internationally on strategy and policy development. He has led the development of the National Dementia Strategy and worked with the World Health Organisation to make dementia a global priority in its Global Action Plan. He recently secured a 4.7m grant from the ERSC and NIHR will explore definitively for the first time inequalities and inequities in dementia care.
“Dementia is the great health and social care challenge of the 21st century. This project is a fantastic example of the potential for interdisciplinary working, bringing together experts in science and technology with those with clinical expertise and with people with dementia themselves, to create seamless interventions that enable people to live well with dementia.”