Design and prototype of a device to engage cognitively disabled older adults in visual artwork

Scott Blunsden, Brandi Richards, Tom Bartindale, Dan Jackson, Patrick Olivier, Jen Boger, Alex Mihailidis, Jesse Hoey

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearch

7 Citations (Scopus)


We investigate technological solutions for arts therapists who work with older adults with cognitive disabilities, such as Alzheimer's disease. We present ethnographic analysis of a survey of arts therapists in the UK and Canada, and show how there is a need for devices that can be used to promote autonomy and independence through engagement with creative visual arts. We then demonstrate a novel device that uses a touch-screen interface, and artificial intelligence software to monitor and interact with a user. Using a probabilistic model, the device monitors the behaviours of a user as well as aspects of their affective or internal state, including their responsiveness and engagement with the device. The device then uses decision theoretic reasoning to take situated actions that promote engagement from the user. We show how the device fits with the ethnographic design, and we give a laboratory demonstration of the functionality of the device. We present and discuss our next steps with this device, including end user testing.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPETRA '09 - Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on PErvasive Technologies Related to Assistive Environments
Place of PublicationNew York NY USA
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)9781605584096
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Art therapy
  • Computer vision
  • Face detection
  • Mdp
  • Partially observableMarkov decision process
  • Pomdp
  • Touch screen

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