Binge-watching robot spots dementia

Seeing is learning: Robbie after watching the episodes of Emmerdale.

Seeing is learning: Robbie after watching the episodes of Emmerdale.  

Robbie can recognise signs of depression and aggressive behaviour

A team led by an Indian-origin researcher has trained a robot to spot the signs of dementia by watching popular British soap opera, Emmerdale, with the hope to help people living with the neurodegenerative condition.

Robbie, developed by researchers at Edge Hill University in the U.K., watched over 13 episodes of Emmerdale, featuring the storyline of dementia sufferer Ashley Thomas.

The robot can now spot signs of depression and aggressive behaviour in the hope that robots like him will be able to help people living with the condition, researchers said.

“There are 46.8 million people living with dementia and this is set to rise to 115.4 million in 2050,” said Ardhendu Behera, senior lecturer at the university, who led the project with three students.

“Depression and aggressive behaviour are often the most upsetting and challenging symptoms for those closest to the person living with the condition,” Mr. Behera said.

Currently, the only ways to monitor and manage dementia is by direct observation — which is labour intensive, time consuming and can be costly from a care perspective, researchers said.

Another way is to use wearable bio-sensing devices, they said.

“Monitoring and recognition is still very much in its infancy and we believe Robbie is the first robot to use vision-based recognition to recognise four behaviours; aggressive, depressive, happy and neutral,” Mr. Behera said.

The team chose the Emmerdale episodes as the Alzheimer’s Society described them as a ‘realistic portrayal’ of the condition, researchers said. They broke the 35-minute-long episodes featuring Ashley into 65,082 images, teaching Robbie to recognise facial expressions and body language.

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 7:44:39 PM |

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