29 Feb E-MOTIVE – Pharaon Second Open Call winner
Project Partners: Next2u s.r.l. (N2U), University “D’Annunzio” of Chieti-Pescara (UDA), Polytechnique University of Marche (UNIVPM)
The objective of the E-MOTIVE project is to create innovative solutions for smart wheelchairs able to improve mobility for older people and patients with motor disabilities by monitoring physiological signals and the affective state of the users. The World Health Organization reported that about 15% of the world’s population lives with some form of disability, of whom 2-4% experience significant difficulties in functioning. Particularly, in Italy, the overall number of people with disabilities reaches 3.2 million, and there are approximately 900 thousand (equal to 29.3%) people who report both motor limitations and difficulties in carrying out daily activities. Moreover, the ongoing demographic transition, characterized by a projected rise in the old-age dependency ratio (the proportion of those aged 65 and above relative to those aged 15-64) from 28% to 50% by the year 2060, indicates that age-related illnesses will provide a significant issue in the future. In this perspective, the development of advanced healthcare services could be fundamental to lighten the economic and logistic burden of the National Healthcare System when dealing with ageing and disabilities.
In line with the Pharaon’s Italian pilots, the primary aim of the E-MOTIVE project is to develop technological solutions able to support older individuals in their autonomous mobility. Additionally, it seeks to evaluate the health condition of the users and to monitor their affective state. In this scenario, the promotion of interoperability between commercially available devices and Pharaon’s affiliated solutions will be emphasized. Specifically, this emphasis will mostly revolve around the available Internet of Things services (IoTool, SenLab), as well as an application designed for health monitoring (RRD eHealth) that is linked to the Cloud.
The available tools will be integrated with a Physiological Computational Module (PCM), developed by N2U, composed of co-registered RGB and Infrared Cameras, with integrated Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms for affective computing. This PCM will be mounted on a smart wheelchair whose module navigation and sensor equipment have been developed by UNIVPM, able of navigating autonomously or user-controlled. The integration with the PCM will create a support able of understanding human needs and offering assistance during the mobility with the smart wheelchair, monitoring the most relevant health and emotional information. Moreover, the smart wheelchair will be equipped with a tablet to administer cognitive tests and positive stimuli fostering positive behaviours (e.g., Pharaon PACO). The E-MOTIVE approach aims to showcase the technical viability, social acceptability, and economic sustainability of the proposed solution in elder care facilities and home environments. These environments commonly house persons who are fragile and in need of sensitive and dedicated care and interaction, together with caregivers and medical professionals who are engaged in highly regimented and demanding roles. The proposed project would further contribute to the development and promotion of an atmosphere conducive to innovation within the automation and smart wheelchair industry. Consequently, this will enable the creation of prospective entrepreneurial endeavours, extending beyond the healthcare sector to embrace further domains of robotics, including logistics and medicine.