University of Portsmouth experts help care for elderly

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SENIOR health workers have met an intelligent computerised avatar designed to help take the strain of caring for Britain’s ageing population.

University of Portsmouth specialists in virtual reality, advanced interactive technologies and animation have combined their expertise to help create Rita (Responsive InTeractive Advocate).

It is the first step in revolutionising the way elderly people are cared for in the future, allowing many to live independently for longer and saving the NHS millions.

Rita is being developed so she can appear as a figure on a television screen, a tablet computer or a mobile phone.

She is able to monitor heart rate and blood pressure, remind people to take medication and will know if they have fallen over or are in pain and then alert the doctor.

She is able to analyse speech, movement and facial expression to detect a person’s mood and respond accordingly.

Dr Wendy Powell said: ‘We have achieved a massive amount in a short time, much of which was done here at Portsmouth. It’s an indicator of the strength of our project team, as well as the animation expertise at Portsmouth, that we have come so far so fast.’