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Virtual care professionals for healthy aging

Growing old often comes with facing limitations. Prevention and a healthy lifestyle can be essential elements in preventing the negative effects of aging. Smart artificial intelligence can deliver additional benefits in this process. Together with partners from across Europe, the University of Twente (UT) and Roessingh Research & Development (RRD) will develop the Council of Coaches: a team of virtual coaches, supported by smart artificial intelligence, to motivate users in embracing a healthier lifestyle.

Team of care professionals

Every coach in the Council of Coaches has his own specialization. They will inform the user through computers, telephones, and tablets on health and wellbeing issues, thereby discussing these issues both with the user individually and amongst themselves. As a team they try to motivate the user to participate in healthy activities, both physically as well as mentally, and inform them about the importance of social activities and healthy eating habits. Individually, the coaches will address the user as well in order to maximize results. The user on his part, can ask for a team meeting with the council or a separate coach on any given moment, when he is in need of motivation or help.

The cooperation of these specialized council members opens up many different ways to support a user in their efforts to increase their health. “Users who actively engage with their virtual coaches will benefit the most. But even passive users, who don’t actively partake in the discussions with the virtual coaches, will be getting information and motivational messages that could lead to behavioural changes, just by listening to the discussion amongst the virtual coaches about their situation, and their behaviour,” explains Harm op den Akker, project manager at RRD.

Smart artificial intelligence

For the Council of Coaches to function as realistically, and effectively as possible, smart artificial intelligence will be created. The approach of the coaches to interact on a personal level with the user will be as tailor made as possible, by using a holistic model to analyse behaviour as well as information from different sensors. These sensors will be placed on the body and in the direct environment of the user, preferably as inconspicuously and comfortable as possible. These measures will increase the influence of the council compared to the influence of an individual coach.

The Council of Coaches will initially be tested with a group of older people who are facing age-related restrictions. Furthermore, a group of users suffering from type 2 diabetes and chronic pain will participate in the trials.

The three-year project is being coordinated by the University of Twente. Other participants are Roessingh Research and Development (RRD), the Danish Board of Technology Foundation (Denmark), The Pierre et Marie Curie University, Paris 6 (France), the University of Dundee (UK), the University Politècnica de València (Spain) and Innovation Sprint (Belgium). The project has been awarded a grant under the European Horizon2020 programme. Detailed information on the project can be found on the website, Follow the project on Twitter:

Laurens van der Velde
Press relations (available Mon-Fri)