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ECE professor receives NSF award for his research on an intelligent homecare system to assist older adults

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Oklahoma State University’s Dr. Weihua Sheng, principal investigator and professor in the School of Electrical and Computer engineering (ECE), along with co-principal investigator Alex Bishop, professor in Human Development and Family Science received an NSF award in the amount of $550k for their research on an intelligent homecare system (IHS) to assist older adults who age in place. 


The broader impact/commercial potential of this Partnerships for Innovation - Technology Translation (PFI-TT) project is that the proposed IHS will allow home-bound older adults to remain safe and healthy within their own homes, therefore benefiting the growing elderly population in the United States.


The proposed IHS will monitor older adult’s well-being in terms of activities of daily living, physical and subjective well-being, and emergency situations. By better connecting older adults with their caregivers and better managing their daily life, the IHS will help bring peace of mind and reduce the cost of healthcare to family members. With a better tool for home healthcare, formal caregivers can enjoy improved productivity, reduced cost of operation and increased revenue. This research will also improve the educational environment at OSU in disciplines such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, embedded computing, and machine learning, as well as in non-STEM disciplines such as gerontology and entrepreneurship.


The project will develop a prototype of the IHS and prepare it for commercialization. 

The research addresses the challenges in deploying the IHS in real home environments. The major research tasks are: 1) designing a prototype of IHS and a wearable monitoring device; 2) developing a collaborative and multimodal activity recognition algorithm; 3) developing the IHS functions for well-being monitoring, intervention, and communication; 4) developing the IHS capabilities to overcome the psychosocial barriers associated with advanced ages. The proposed work has several novelties. First, the IHS leverages its sensing capability and local AI to understand the daily activities of older adults, which provides the basis for health monitoring, intervention, and communication with caregivers. Second, the IHS assesses the physical and subjective well-being of older adults through anomaly detection and clinical interview. Third, the IHS proactively engages the at-risk older adults to deliver timely interventions through health coaching and daily life management. Fourth, the IHS offers AI-assisted intelligent messaging and telehealth to connect the older adults with caregivers, therefore promoting the socioemotional well-being of older adults. Finally, the IHS overcomes the psychosocial barriers by developing technologies for age-friendly human machine interface (HMI), learning and adaptation, and privacy protection.

To read more about the award visit the NSF website.

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