This is my thesis, the focus of which was on “Assisted Cognition”. It was the result of close work with my advisors Henry Kautz and Dieter Fox at the University of Washington Computer Science and Engineering Department (now a school). I am also very grateful to support from Gaetano Borriello and Ed Lazowska in getting me over the finish line.
The Aging of the Baby Boomers
In the next 50 years, the industrialized world is going to see a dramatic change in the demographics of its population. A huge number of people, the children who were the baby- boom, are going to begin to reach retirement age and experience the predictable effects of aging. Not only is the absolute size of this demographic group a first for the world, but the relative numbers of elderly compared to working age individuals is also shifting.
The economic and social cost of providing a good quality of life for the baby-boomers is a real and present challenge that we are facing. One of the most effective ways to alleviate the costs associated with aging is to increase the time during which people are able to live independently.
One of the major risks to independence, and a reason for the decline in the accomplishment of typical Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) by the elderly is the onset mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a precursor to Alzheimer’s Disease. Regardless of the presence of cognitive disabilities, research suggests that one of the best ways to prolong independence is to encourage the successful completion of ADLs . A side benefit of such an improvement is an increase in the quality of life of caregivers, and improved socialization of our seniors – both of which correlate to increased quality of life.
Assisted Cognition: The Hypothesis
This thesis seeks to determine if it is possible to use next generation sensors to recognize activities of individuals with sufficient detail that cognitive errors can be recognized, and corrected.
To do this I had to use math and computers.
( local copy)