Seminar: The COACH: An automated daily task support for older adults with dementia

Stephen Czarnuch
PhD Candidate
University of Toronto

The COACH: An automated daily task support for older adults with dementia

Department of Computer Science
Thursday, November 7, 2013, 1:00 p.m., Room EN-2022


It is estimated that over 35 million people worldwide and at least 500,000 people in Canada are living with dementia. Since care for older adults with dementia is often provided by informal caregivers in a home environment, the burden associated with helping with daily task completion is shifted onto the caregiver, impacting the quality of life and independence of both the older adult and the caregiver. Intelligent assistive technologies (AT) have been developed to try to help a person with dementia live independently while both lessening caregiver burden and remaining cost-effective. However, despite the potential help they offer, studies have shown that AT designed and developed to support the loss of cognition are simply not reaching the stage of clinical trials, let alone real-world testing, and are often abandoned. The COACH is an intelligent AT that has been shown in controlled clinical trials to support older adults with dementia through the daily activity of hand washing by emulating caregiver guidance. However, in an unsupervised clinical trial, colour-based hand tracking performance was sub-optimal. A new overhead depth-based body tracker was developed and integrated into the COACH toward an in-home efficacy study of the system. The tracker implements a random decision forest and local mode-find algorithm to propose colour, texture, lighting and shape invariant part proposals. A temporal and kinematic filter allows the presentation of a primitive skeleton model tracking 15 body parts and joints.

Biography: Steve is a PhD Candidate at the University of Toronto and is scheduled to defend his doctoral research in March, 2014. His PhD began in September of 2009 under the supervision of Dr. Alex Mihailidis of the Intelligent Assistive Technology and Systems Lab at the University of Toronto, Canada. His research looks to extend previous work on the COACH prompting system, an artificially intelligent Assistive Technology designed to support older adults with
cognitive impairments such as dementia. Specifically, he seeks to improve the computer vision human tracking, and develop it into a product that can be used in the homes of older adults with dementia. His project looks to increase the independence, autonomy and quality of life of older adults by allowing them to live more independently, reducing the burden often placed on family caregivers and on global health care. Steve completed a Masters of Applied Science in Electrical Engineering through the Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering at McMaster University in 2005, and his Bachelor of Engineering and Management in Electrical Engineering in 2002.



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