Radio listeners are used to getting information about the travel and weather – but now they could get personalised medical support, thanks to an innovative new scheme.
Radio Me, a project clinically led by the Centre of Dementia Studies at Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS), aims to improve the lives of people living alone with dementia, allowing them to remain living independently at home for longer.
A user switching on the radio in the morning might find their usual local station. However, at a point dictated by the electronic diary, a DJ-like voice could override the real DJ and remind the listener to have a drink, take medicine, attend a memory café or anything else. Another time, Radio Me might detect that the listener is becoming agitated via their bio-bracelet readings. The software could then override the scheduled song choice and select a song from the user's personal library, known to be likely to calm them. Calming material could continue to be played until Radio Me detects the user is no longer agitated.
Sube Banerjee, Professor of Dementia at BSMS, one of the researchers who helped developed the project and the lead of the Radio Me Sussex team said: “Dementia is the great health and social care challenge of the 21st century. This project is a fantastic example of the potential for interdisciplinary working, bringing together experts in science and technology with those with clinical expertise and with people with dementia themselves, to create seamless interventions that enable people to live well with dementia.”
“We know people with dementia can struggle with the current technology available to remind them about vital daily tasks. By combining this cutting-edge technology with the familiar medium of radio, we can make daily reminders easy and accessible so they can stay living in their own homes for as long as possible.”
The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)-funded collaborative project will capitalise on the popularity of radio among the age group most likely to be living with dementia, developing a way to seamlessly ‘remix’ live digital broadcast so that listeners will receive personalised reminders, information and music. Running for 50 months, Radio Me will be developed then trialled among people with dementia in Cambridgeshire and Sussex.
The Centre for Dementia Studies at BSMS is providing clinical leadership will be carrying out the developmental fieldwork, along with the field testing in Sussex. The project is led overall by the University of Plymouth’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research (ICCMR), with collaboration from the Glasgow Interactive Systems group at the University of Glasgow and the Cambridge Institute for Music Therapy Research at Anglia Ruskin University.
Using a commercial bio-bracelet to measure physical signs like heart rate, as well as wireless speakers and an internet connection, Radio Me output will be produced in users’ homes by artificial intelligence software to be created at the University of Plymouth. An electronic diary completed by users and their carers will also be a key element.
Non-academic partners in Radio Me are Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, BBC Research and Development, the Alzheimer’s Society, BBC Radio Devon, care provider charity MHA Homes, Bauer Media, and speech synthesis company Cereproc Ltd.
The EPSRC and commercial funders have granted a total of £2.43m to Radio Me.