The Understanding Coach avatar prototype screengrab
The Understanding Coach avatar prototype screengrab

The Understanding Coach

1 October 2020 until 31 March 2022
Project type

A compassionate AI-powered virtual human tool could improve the quality of life of amnesia patients who require increasing support as their condition deteriorates.

As the burden of caring for people with progressive memory loss often falls to overburdened relatives or care professionals, researchers hope that this technology may help to alleviate the shortage in personnel. The on-screen companion will empathically engage the patient in real-time dialogue via a smart device, while encouraging discussion and providing reminders for daily tasks. 

Increase self-sufficiency and confidence

This unique software will be able to interpret the patient’s speech and identify emotions, needs and desires, and subsequently combine these with sensor data so that it can automatically adapt and form its own responses. This will provide the patient with a stimulating and naturalistic conversational environment, which will promote self-sufficiency and self-confidence. Most importantly, the tool will be able to observe the patient’s behaviour and reactions over time by monitoring subtle but noteworthy indicators of changes in the patient’s cognitive ability that could signify the need for intervention.

The aim is to provide family members, caregivers and clinicians with data that has been collected by the software; this can then be directly or remotely accessed via an app.

While the potential for such software has been acknowledged, there has been very little real-world development and experimentation. The two care provider partners will act as field laboratories that will test the tool with real-world patients who will provide feedback on the tool’s development.



Contact information

More information on this research study? Questions from the media may be directed to the science editor. All other questions may be directed to the researcher.