Technology-assisted living project showcased at University of Glasgow

Published: 19 February 2013

A pioneering research project aimed at developing technology to help older and disabled people live more independent lives is being showcased today.

A pioneering research project aimed at developing technology to help older and disabled people live more independent lives is being showcased at an event at the University of Glasgow today (Tuesday 19 February).

BBC News Online: 'Smelly' fans remind people to eat
STV Online: Gadgets to help the elderly developed by Scottish universities

The MultiMemoHome project, a collaboration between researchers at the University’s School of Computing Science and the University of Edinburgh’s School of Informatics, has created a series of ‘multimodal’ technologies which harness sound, vision, smell and touch to create interactive systems which are easily understood and navigated by people with cognitive or sensory impairments.

MMH bowl

Products created by the MultiMemoHome team will be on display today for representatives of local authorities and social care providers at the University’s Sir Alwyn Williams Building.

Those products include vibrating wristbands or pendants which can be set to act as reminders for events users might otherwise forget, bowls which light up when keys or other important but easily-lost items are placed into them, and systems which can respond to speech commands even when the speaker may have some speech impairment. The team even experimented with injecting familiar smells into users’ houses to evoke a reminder response.  

Dr Marilyn McGee-Lennon, the University of Glasgow’s lead researcher on the project, said: “In recent years many new pieces of hardware and software have come to market which aim to help people live independently. Although they often work very well on their own, they are often not so good at sharing information with each other to provide carers with a full picture of the everyday lives of the people they look after.

“We’ve taken significant steps to developing products which easily interact with each other and are fully customisable, so users can set them up to work in ways which they can easily understand and react to. A fully-wired house could track a person through their day, providing reminders for medication or meals, ensuring they remember their appointments, or preventing them from missing phone calls or calls at their front door.

“While setting up an in-home care infrastructure would require a significant initial investment in the technology from care providers, it could very well provide those in need of care with the support they need to enjoy a better quality of life in their own homes. That will also lessen the financial and staffing burdens an increasingly aged population is putting on care providers in an uncertain economic climate.”

Towards the end of last year, 12 older people from the west of Scotland participated in a trial of a tablet-based system developed by the MultiMemoHome researchers.

Elspeth Harte, from Bothwell, was one of the trial participants and has frequently taken part in focus groups designed to make the MultiMemoHome technology as simple to use as possible.

She said: “I was given a tablet and a digital pen to use for several weeks to keep track of my appointments. The pen let me write notes in my paper diary and they were automatically transferred to my tablet, which would give me reminders to make sure I remembered to keep my appointments. It was easy to use and it was a real, practical benefit to me.

“I think the work Marilyn and the team have done is fantastic. They’ve been great about listening to suggestions from users and making changes to fit their needs. I’d be happy to use their technology myself and recommend it to my friends.”

The University’s association with using technology for assisted living will continue following a successful bid to evaluate the success of a £37m national project called DALLAS (Delivering Assisted Lifestyles Living At Scale). Led by Technology Strategy Board, the National Institute for Health Research and the Scottish Government, DALLAS will introduce 170,000 people from across the UK to assisted living technology by 2015.

Dr McGee-Lennon added: “We’re pleased to be working with the DALLAS project, which is set to play a major role in determining how older people can be best served by technology to help keep them independent.

“Although DALLAS is still at an early stage, some of the MultiMemoHome technology we developed could well be chosen for use by participating councils. We’re looking forward to seeing how those systems and others are adopted and helping to evaluate their effectiveness in improving participants’ everyday lives.”

The MultiMemoHome project began in 2009, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

For more information on MultiMemoHome, visit


For more information contact Ross Barker in the University of Glasgow Media Relations Office on 0141 330 8593 or email


First published: 19 February 2013