Henry Kautz, Dieter Fox, Oren Etzioni, Gaetano Borriello, and Larry Arnstein
The rise of Alzheimer’s disease is one of the greatest health crises facing the industrialized world. Today, approximately four million Americans suffer from Aizheimer’s disease; by 2050, the number is expected to rise to 15 million people. As a result of the increasing longevity of the elderly, many sufferers are now aware that their capacities to remember, to learn, and to carry out the tasks of everyday life are slowly being lost. The Assisted Cognition Project is a new joint effort between the University of Washington’s Department of Computer Science, Medical Center, and Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center that is exploring the use of AI systems to support and enhance the independence and quality of life of Alzheimer’s patients. The goal of the Assisted Cognition project is to develop novel computer systems that will enhance the quality of life of people suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and similar cognitive disorders. Assisted Cognition systems use ubiquitous computing and artificial intelligence technology to replace some of the memory and problem-solving abilities that have been lost by an Aizheimer’s patient. Two concrete examples of the Assisted Cognition systems we are developing are an ACTIVITY COMPASS that helps reduce spatial disorientation both inside and outside the home, and an ADAPTIVE PROMPTER that helps patients carry out multi-step everyday tasks.