An estimated 50 million people worldwide are living with dementia, resulting in more than $1 trillion each year in healthcare costs. Artificial emotional intelligence (AEI) technology developer BPU Holdings has been researching methods to reduce the complications associated with the disease. Its senior virtual assistant (SeVA) technology utilizes computer-simulated emotion to provide a new level of support for dementia patients to mitigate their pain. In doing so, the technology is expected to reduce treatment costs in the millions of dollars globally.

The AEI framework utilizes simulated emotional understanding and computer learning models to improve machine-human interactions and enhance treatment for dementia patients. (Credit: BPU Holdings)

AEI is a form of artificial intelligence (AI) technology that goes beyond thinking like human beings. It introduces simulated emotional understanding into computer learning models to improve machine-human interactions. BPU Holdings’ goal is to use AEI to revolutionize the way geriatric patients are monitored.

Disrupting How Dementia-Associated Delirium Is Treated

One of the most dangerous and costly side effects of dementia comes in the form of delirium, a state of incoherence that can lead to delusions, falls, anxiety, and other complications. Currently, the most common and efficient way to screen for delirium is for nurses to ask their patients a series of questions twice per day. In many cases, nurses are able to catch the signs of delirium before it causes significant damage; however, as many as 29 percent of hospitalized dementia patients experience delirium long before it is diagnosed because care providers are not always present and patients do not always give accurate or complete answers to the screening questions.

The AEI framework developed by BPU Holdings has been adapted by a team of scientists from the University of Arizona to interact with and monitor patients. This system is designed to change the way delirium is diagnosed and treated. With the help of SeVA technology, AEI will be used in hospitals by the end of 2019 to interact with patients on a consistent, personal level. AEI can ask patients the same questions that nurses do with the added benefit of being able to screen for emotional responses throughout the day.

For example, AEI can ask a yes or no question such as, “Do fish live in the ocean?” and then evaluate the patient’s response not just through the correctness of the answer but also by listening for cues in the patient’s voice that something is abnormal. The framework can also recognize facial expressions, changes in posture, and other emotional responses. If a change in mood is sensed from the previous hour’s interview, for example, AEI can alert a human practitioner that further evaluation might be needed.

Customization Further Advances Treatment

Taking the care and monitoring a step further, BPU’s customized AEI featuring SeVA technology can intervene with the patient when it detects a mood shift. For example, it can soften lighting to reduce anxiety or play soothing music or white noise to help with sleep. The machine can even engage in small talk or tell jokes to help provide companionship in an effort to reduce fear, anger, and loneliness.

BPU Holdings is working on a further goal of implementing voice detection from loved ones. Recognizing the sound of a loved one can provide immediate comfort and even trigger memory paths for dementia patients. By using prerecorded phrases of family members and close friends, patients can respond to nurse and doctor checks while simultaneously being comforted.

Although AI might not hold all of the answers for the future care of aging patients, it is clear that adding an emotional cognitive component to computerized tools can have a significant, positive impact. Monitoring for delirium is only the beginning. Consistent interaction with an AI equipped with the capacity of cognitive emotional sentiment can enable doctors and patients to achieve diagnosis, treatment, and recovery more accurately and efficiently.

BPU Holdings views AEI’s use in healthcare as the next technological advancement to save lives while improving medical treatment methods. With this technology, patients affected by dementia and delirium could potentially live longer, and their loved ones could be equipped to better cope and support throughout patients' treatment.

This article was written by Oh Sang Gyoon, BPU Holdings, Seoul, South Korea. For more information, visit here.