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Compensating for Eyesight with Mobie Technology

By Marja Harjumaa, VTT Technical Research Center of Finland

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  • At the VTT we have several projects concerning the elderly and the technology and our goal is to create useful services which would help them to live at home longer and to enhance [inhaans] their quality of life. HearMeFeelMe project is focused on vision impairments which are inevitable results of growing old.
  • We are especially interested in creating services in two main areas: Medication and medicine related information and services and Health monitoring and diet information. Medication services can increase the quality of lives by ensuring correct medication and supporting independency of the elderly by empowering them in everyday routines related to medication. Wrong dosages and forgetting to take one’s medicine have been proved to be surprisingly common especially with the elderly, and it is a big problem in the care of chronic and acute medical conditions. We are using NFC technology which stands for Near Field Communication to turn the information into speech.
  • HearMeFeelMe is a two year project which started 1st of May 2009. It is organized as AAL project and AAL stands for Ambient Assisted Living. We have partners from three different countries.
  • The medicine service is implemented in co-operation with pharmacy, the Caritas foundation which offers sheltered homes for people and the visually impaired person.
  • At the pharmacy, the NFC tag, which is like a sticker, is attached to a medicine package. The pharmacist places the medicine package on top of the NFC reader device. Then he or she writes the medicine information using a regular computer and the writing software. A tag costs about 20 snts or less.
  • The visually impaired user takes the medicine package and places it on top of the NFC reader device and it turns the product information into speech using a voice synthesizer [sinthisaisö]. At the moment we have flat NFC tags, but it would be more useful it those would include Braille [breil] text so that a visually impaired person coud find them more easily. It is also possible to use a NFC mobile phone to read the information or a mobile phone and a separate bluetooth reader.
  • It has been difficult to find visually impaired people who manage their medications by themselves. Many people have said that the medication management is the first thing that visually impaired elderly people has to give away. It usual that they buy the medication service from a private health care insitution or a visiting nurse from public healthcare visits them. We are trying to find what is the optimal point in time to make the system implementation and training, because people who are not visually impaired kepp telling that they don’t need the system, but but in the other hand. We have also found that the system is easy, the users just have to place the medicine package. User comments are touching. Some of them would like to take care of the medication by themselves, because that would make their lives more independent. On the other hand, some users who are using the medication service are relieved, because they had fears concerning medicine taking. We interviewed one woman, who would be very eager to stop using the medication service and take care of the medication by herself, because that would make her life more independent. One elderly woman said that before they used the service, she and her husband might have made some mistakes with the medicines and they had fears related to medicine taking. We would like to find out that how this system we’re developing would reduce fears and would help people to live longer in their homes independently.
  • Health monitoring services can also increase the quality of life by helping the elderly to track and monitor their health values including blood pressure, pulseoximetry, glucose, weight and so on, in a simple and intuitive way. The operation of medical devices such as glucose meters, measurement registration and recovering of stored data can be easier for the user if they do not need to rely on others for a daily health monitoring at home. In addition support for diet routines can be provided making if easier to identify of the food and the access to more detailed information about a foodstuff (e.g. ingredients, nutritional facts).
  • HearMefeelMe

    1. 1. HearMeFeelMe Marja Harjumaa, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
    2. 2. HMFM: Compensating for Eyesight with Mobile Technology
    3. 3. Goal <ul><li>improving the quality of life by providing mobile service access for the visually impaired elderly using services related to </li></ul><ul><ul><li>medication and medicine related information and services, and </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>health monitoring and diet information </li></ul></ul><ul><li>accessing digital services in an easy, simple and intuitive way by touching them </li></ul><ul><ul><li>NFC readers or NFC mobile phones </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>digital service access through NFC tags </li></ul></ul>
    4. 4. Consortium NOKIA LARGE COMPANY ONCE Finnish Federation of the Visually Impaired (FFVI) END-USER ORGANIZATION ToP Tunniste SME Oulun 6. Joutsen apteekki (pharmacy) Caritas Foundation BUSINESS PARTNERS NCSR Demokritos TECNALIA-RBTK VTT RESEARCH/ ACADEMIC Greece Spain Finland
    5. 5. Finland’s field trial: Case medicine prescription reader VTT, Top Tunniste and Caritas Foundation
    6. 6. Scenario – Medicine information
    7. 7. Using the system: step 1
    8. 8. Using the system: step 2
    9. 9. Observations from Finland’s pilots <ul><li>It is challenging to find visually impaired elderly people who manage their medications by themselves. </li></ul><ul><li>We have found the two ends: the users who are not (yet) visually impaired and those who don’t manage their medications anymore. </li></ul><ul><li>We are trying to find what is the optimal point in time to make the system implementation and training. </li></ul><ul><li>The usability of the system is not a problem. The elderly have got the idea after a very short guidance. </li></ul>
    10. 10. Scenario – Health monitoring and nutritional information
    11. 11. More information <ul><li>Web site: www.hearmefeelme.org </li></ul><ul><li>Project contacts: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Minna Isomursu (VTT), [email_address] </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>WP1: Touch-based interaction for service access, Igone Idigoras Leibar (Robotiker), [email_address] </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>WP2: Indoor User Localisation and Tracking of Misplaced Objects, Stelios Thomopoulos (Demokritos), [email_address] </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>WP3: Multichannel UI design, Antonio Guadagno (Nokia), [email_address] </li></ul></ul>