01/05/14 The digital future of health and social care
At April's Digital Health conference (dHealth) in Stirling, industry insiders gathered to discuss a worrying fact: our current healthcare system will not be able to cope with our aging population. Talks focused on the provision of remote care for the elderly, cutting down on avoidable routine visits to the hospital and GP, and reducing the need for home visits by carers. This not only saves a small fortune in financial terms, it allows for more efficient use of staff time. So-called 'telehealth' computer systems installed in patients' homes collect and track general health data such as blood pressure readings. Automatic reports are regularly produced and sent to remote medical staff, providing at-a-glance indications of trends and worrying signs.
Designing a computational interface that can meet the needs of an aging population has long been an area of concern to researchers in the broad field of 'Human-Computer Interaction' (HCI). There are many design challenges; users should feel in control of the machine rather than the other way around. A key aim is to reduce the feeling of isolation experienced by many older people; one of the few downsides to telehealth is the removal of a regular source of face-to-face contact. This point in particular is where speech technology has a crucial part to play – giving the machine an unmistakably human facet with which the user can engage. Even something as simple as replacing beeps with voice prompts in a simple alert system, for example to remind someone to take their afternoon medication, is a step in a more human direction.
The CereProc team knows a thing or two about the role of speech synthesis in HCI. CereProc CSO Matthew Aylett is at CHI (Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems) in Toronto this week presenting to experts from around the world in this very field. From a healthcare perspective, CereProc's TTS has already been taken up by the Scottish NHS, with scope for more extensive deployment in telehealth systems as these continue to gather steam. CereProc's text to speech (TTS) is capable of conveying an unrivalled level of emotion making it ideal for HCI applications, and we are in the fortunate position of being able to see some fantastic research being done using our SDK. With the advent of low-cost computers like the Raspberry Pi, the scope for innovation in the development of creative HCI solutions is greater than ever before.
Tweet us your views @cereproc
CereProc's SDK is available on multiple platforms, including the Raspberry Pi. For more information contact our sales team.