Virtual Coach-Quality of Life Technology Center - Carnegie Mellon University

QoLT Systems:  Virtual Coach 

Project Lead:  Dan Siewiorek, Carnegie Mellon

Virtual coaches aim to reduce the barriers of current modes of service and support delivery and assuring safety. Ultimately, they can also reduce the labor needed to deploy technology, and increase the availability of care while addressing the increasing remoteness of the immediate family.

While similar in intended functions, presently available cognitive aids are simplistic, providing only scheduled reminders and rote instructions, for example. Virtual coaches actually monitor user performance of activities and provide appropriate feedback and encouragement. As the user’s abilities change, the coach may reduce the number of cues as the subject learns, or provide increased support as needed. A care provider could upload new capabilities to the virtual coach, as required, potentially without even an office visit. Virtual coaches also provide constant and consistent observation/monitoring, even on a clinician’s guidance beyond episodic patient examinations.

The following coaches, whose needs are identified in collaboration with Person & Society Thrust, are under development: 

  • Power wheel chair compliance coach:  input is prescription of positions and durations; monitor positions and durations; remind to do past due activities
  • Alzheimer Disease Memory Reminder Coach: cures to remember experienced events; events sensed by still pictures, GPS, accelerometers, audio, and light; experience from small user group
  • Personal Agency adjusting for motor impairment: diagnosis motor impairment for user interaction, guide mouse to predicted position based on past movement
  • IMPACT (Improving and Motivating Physical Activity Using Context)
  • Real Time Assessment of Psychosocial Stress
  • Manual wheel chair propulsion coach

These all share the architecture shown in the figure below. It illustrates how the components of virtual coach map to research activities in Human System Interaction Thrust, as well as other thrusts including Perception and Awareness Thrust.  Virtual coaches are also used in other QoLT systems, in particular Safe Driving and Active Home. We are unique by virtue of addressing non-technological issues in collaboration with Person and Society Thrust.