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Machines Like Us

Artificial intelligence could revolutionize elder care

Saturday, 01 March 2014

In the future elderly people will be able to rely on artificially intelligent ‘virtual companions' to help them to stay living comfortably and safely in their own homes.

The service could revolutionise the way elderly people are cared for in the future, giving back independence and autonomy to millions and saving the NHS money.

That is the vision of a team of computer scientists, social work experts and service design specialists who have been awarded £500K from the Technology Strategy Board to develop the concept of the Responsive InTeractive Advocate (RITA). The RITA project is one of six to be born out of a competition, called the Long Term Care Revolution, which connects public sector challenges with innovative ideas from industry.

The project team from the Universities of Portsmouth and Kent are collaborating with two private companies to build the system which could be operational in some form as early as 2020.

Individuals will have their own humanized computer avatar capable of intelligent communication, which will monitor their health and well-being and provide a friendly link between the individual and family, friends, professions and services. The avatar will have access to a comprehensive database of personal information about the individual, from health records to personal preferences and even character traits, which will help inform its communication and decisions.

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