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Digital tech to enhance elderly independent living and mental wellbeing

Australia’s Deakin University has partnered with industry and other universities to create a collaborative research hub that will drive technological improvements in in-home support for older people and people living with a disability.

According to a recent press release, the Digital Enhanced Living Hub will use digital technology to address the related but different needs of high-quality ageing and high-quality disability and rehabilitation support to allow people to live at home independently for longer.

The Industrial Transformation Research Hub for Digital Enhanced Living

The Hub will develop effective, affordable and safe in-home and in-residential care solutions, such as smartphone technology to support the mental health of elderly people and avatar learning tools to improve care for people with dementia.

The Minister for Education, the Hon Dan Tehan and the University’s Vice-Chancellor launched the Industrial Transformation Research Hub for Digital Enhanced Living.

The Hub is funded by AU$ 3 million grant from the Australian Research Council.

It addresses the emerging social challenge of how existing facilities and resources keep up with the growing demand for care and support for the ageing population.

Collaboration will be key to the work of the Digital Enhanced Living Hub as industry partners outline their challenges and research teams find solutions.

Together, these outcomes will be translated to commercial use.

Shared access to research laboratories

Digital Enhanced Living Hub Director Professor Kon Mouzakis shared that the Hub would provide shared access to the University’s expertise.

The Hub will give partners access to the research and development infrastructure capabilities and expertise from the University’s leading research laboratories. These include:

  1. The Applied Artificial Intelligence Institute (A2I2)
  2. The Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN)
  3. The Institute for Health Transformation (IHT)

Projects and Partners

The Digital Enhanced Living Hub is currently working with partners on four projects that aim to address key themes including independent living and mental wellbeing.

The first project is the introduction of a Digital Living Assistant to interact with and assist older people living independently at home.

This project has the potential to reduce symptoms of loneliness and other mental health issues.

The University is working with an organisation that provides residential and community services for older Australians in Victoria and Tasmania.

The second project focuses on the development and evaluation of the use of avatar to educate carers on how to provide specialised care for people living with dementia.

The University is working with an organisation providing care for Australians with dementia.

The third project is for the development and evaluation of an early intervention mobile app for those suffering from anxiety and early stages of depression.

The University is working with a translational research institute that aims to reduce the incidence of mental illness and the stigma around it.

The fourth project centres on the development and evaluation of a system to identify early risk of frailty for those living independently in community dwellings.

For this project, the University is working with Flinders University; an organisation that creates technologies that help manage complex mental and chronic health; and an organisation promoting opportunities and services to support good lives for older people.

The Digital Enhanced Living Hub has university partners that include Australian and International institutions. These are:

  1. Monash University
  2. Flinders University
  3. University of New South Wales
  4. University of Technology Sydney
  5. The Auckland University of Technology
  6. The University of Auckland
  7. Dublin City University
  8. Technical University of Denmark
  9. Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen
  10. The University of Copenhagen

Moreover, the Hub has nine industry partners to add to this line-up.

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