[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 10-Feb-2012
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Contact: Irati Kortabitarte
i.kortabitarte@elhuyar.com
34-943-363-040
Elhuyar Fundazioa

Development of social technology to improve the quality of life of intellectually disabled people

This release is available in Spanish.

IMAGE: The Uliazpi Foundation and the Tecnalia Centre for Applied Research have signed an agreement to collaborate on the development of technologies for assisting intellectually disabled people.

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The Uliazpi Foundation and the Tecnalia Centre for Applied Research have signed an agreement to collaborate on the development of technologies for assisting intellectually disabled people. Specifically, the two organisations will be working together to develop tools that will improve the emotional communication, personal care, and well-being of individuals who, as a result of their disability, have problems expressing themselves and making their emotional, physical or mental needs known to their carers.

The project sets out to detect emotions in order to assess and enhance the well-being of people who cannot communicate verbally, and thus be able to intervene to reduce their level of discomfort and prevent dangerous behaviour as far as possible. It is a system developed by Tecnalia which makes it possible to detect and communicate the emotions of people who are unable to express themselves of their own accord. The device transmits the emotions of the individual to his or her carers through a mobile phone, in that way the possible negative effects that certain moods could have on his or her health can be controlled. It is geared mainly towards people with some kind of intellectual disability or with serious communication problems.

The device consists of a commercial heart rate monitor that measures and transmits heart rate variability, and a mobile phone which receives the information, and on processing it recognises the valence of the patient's mood, in other words, whether it is positive or negative and, what is more, it measures its intensity.

The system will have a dual function. Firstly, it will improve communication between the patient and his or her carer using an alert system that can be used to mitigate an emotional episode that could endanger the patient's health or give rise to serious behavioural problems (aggressiveness, self-harm, etc.). Secondly, the mobile phone will function as a self-regulating tool that will turn on an automatic voice message upon detection of a strong negative emotion to help to calm the patient down.

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