Innovation That Matters

Ted allows carers to practice in conversation with a realistic simulated person | Photo source Georg Arthur Pflueger on Unsplash

AI avatar effectively communicates with dementia sufferers

Health & Wellbeing

Dementia Australia has won an award for an AI tool designed to help professional carers communicate with dementia sufferers

Spotted: Dementia Australia and Deakin University’s Applied Artificial Intelligence Institute (A212) have been jointly awarded the Victorian iAward for an AI avatar that helps carers to learn how to communicate effectively with dementia sufferers. ‘Ted the AI Avatar’ provides a solution to the difficulty of training carers on the best ways to communicate with those who suffer from the illness.

Traditional education in how to speak with dementia sufferers was limited to class work and role playing with healthy people. Ted allows carers to practice in conversation with a realistic simulated person, which can respond with realistic visual expressions and emotions.

‘Ted’ was developed using the Unity game engine. In order to make the avatar seem realistic, all visual expressions and emotions were captured from an actor, using a facial motion capture system. A preliminary evaluation of the system indicated that it helped care workers to develop increased confidence and a greater sense of the importance of using the appropriate communication techniques with people living with dementia.

According to A2I2 Co-Director, Professor Kon Mouzakis, “Our evaluation showed 100 per cent of aged care workers recalled the five principles of positive communication eight weeks after their learning experience – in contrast, only 20 per cent recalled these principles using traditional learning models.” Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe added that, “It is this active learning approach that enables ‘Ted’ to make a truly positive difference in people’s lives.”

The growth in the number of people living with dementia and Alzheimer’s has fortunately resulted in mainy innovations wanting to help. At Springwise, we have covered many of these, including an AI music therapy platform and a “dementia village” that allows residents to live independently.

Written By: Lisa Magloff

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