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IoT-MoPEDS : Internet of Things - Modelling Personal Environments for Dementia Support

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  • Full or part time
    Prof McCrindle
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Project Overview:
The aim of this project is to investigate and model how the Internet of Things (IoT), defined as a network of physical objects that contain embedded technology to communicate and sense or interact with their internal states or the external environment [1], can be used to support people with early to mid stages of dementia to live independently and enjoy an active lifestyle for as long as possible after diagnosis.

People perform many tasks each day as part of everyday living. Such tasks might be done at the same time on a daily basis, for example, getting dressed, cooking a meal or taking medicine; regularly, such as switching off the iron, or closing windows before going out; or sporadically, such as remembering to send a birthday card to a friend or attend a meeting. It is natural for someone to forget to do, or worry that they have forgotten to do, some things some of the time, particularly if they have busy lives requiring many different and often varied tasks to be done. As people become older they also find that it becomes harder to remember things. This age-associated memory impairment, is a common problem in people over the age of 60, and is not dementia. Dementia, is an umbrella term for the symptoms that occur when the brain is damaged by diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease or stroke resulting in a progressive loss of mental ability and symptoms that may include problems with memory, understanding, judgement, thinking and language [2,3].

People live for many years after the onset of symptoms of dementia and with appropriate support, many can maintain a good quality of life and continue to engage and contribute within society [4]. Whilst technology can never replace the value of personal care it can help support a person as they grow older and can be useful for helping them maintain their independence [6,7,8,9,10] at least in the early stages, should they develop dementia or experience other memory related problems.

As mobile and sensor and microcontroller technologies (e.g. iBeacon, NFC, RFID, PIC Arduino etc.) mature, converge and combine to become the Internet-of-Things [5] objects and people are provided with unique identifiers such that automatic transfer of data and communication can occur between them without the need for human intervention [11,12] .By embedding such technologies into everyday objects with a person’s home (mirror’s, doors, appliances etc.) and local environment (gardens, lampposts, shops etc.) and connecting them directly or indirectly to the internet via cloud-based services a wide range of command, control, monitoring and support facilities can be provided to support everyday independent living and encourage physical and mental activity.

The challenge of this project is to model and develop an IOT system that works in conjunction with many small low cost, low powered sensors placed around a person’s home and local environment in order to provide a ubiquitous and personalized aide to everyday living, stimulation and communication for people in early to mid stages of dementia.

School of Systems Engineering, University of Reading:
The University of Reading is one of the UK’s 20 most research-intensive universities and is ranked in the world’s top 200 universities according to the 2013/14 Times Higher Education World University Rankings. Achievements include the Queen’s Award for Export Achievement (1989) and the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher Education (1998, 2006 and 2009). The School of Systems Engineering has a strong reputation for its innovative research in computer science and information systems, cybernetics, and electronic engineering. Our research is highly-regarded nationally and internationally, with demonstrated real-world impact.

Applicants should have a bachelors (at least 2.1 or equivalent) or masters degree in Computer Science, Engineering, Human Computer Interaction or a strongly-related discipline. Strong programming and interpersonal skills are essential. Experience in user-centred design and working with older adults are desirable.

How to apply:
(1) Submit an application for a PhD in Computer Science using the link below.
(2) After submitting your application you will receive an email to confirm receipt; email should be forwarded along with a covering letter and full CV to Professor Rachel McCrindle ([email protected]).
(3) In the online application system, there is a section for “Research proposal” and a box that says “If you have already been in contact with a potential supervisor, please tell us who” – in this box, please enter “Professor Rachel McCrindle”.

Application Deadline:
Applications accepted all year round.

Further inquiries:
Professor Rachel McCrindle, tel: +44 (0) 118 378 6536, email [email protected]

Funding Notes

We welcome applications from self-funded students worldwide for this project.

Students from Brazil: we welcome and support applications for the Science Without Borders Scholarship (Ciência sem Fronteiras) - http://www.reading.ac.uk/sciencewithoutbordersscholarships.


1. Gartner IT Glossary, Internet of Things, http://www.gartner.com/it-glossary/internet-of-things/
2. Alzheimer’s Society, (2014), Types of dementia [Online] Accessed 30th March 2014, http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/documents.php?categoryID=200362
3. Patient, (2014) Memory loss and Dementia, [Online] Accessed 30th March 2014, http://www.patient.co.uk/health/Memory-Loss-and-Dementia
4. World Health Organisation, (2012), Dementia a public health priority, [Online] Accessed 30th March 2014, http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2012/9789241564458_eng.pdf
5. Technology Strategy Board, (2014), PM commits extra 45 million pounds to innovation in Internet of Things, [Online] Accessed 30th March 2014, https://www.innovateuk.org/-/pm-commits-extra-45-million-pounds-to-innovation-in-internet-of-things
6. Hsu, H-H, Lee, C-N and Chen, Y-F (2011), An RFID-Based Reminder System for Smart Home, In Proc. 2011 International Conference on Advanced Information Networking and Application, pp264-269, 2011.
7. Iglesias, R, Parra, J, Cruces, C and Gomez de Sugura, N, (2009), Experiencing NFC-based touch for home healthcare, In Proc. 2nd Int. Conf. On Pervasive Technologies related to Assistive Environments, Article 27, Corfu, Greece, 2009.
8. Dohr, A., Modre-Osprian, R., Drobics, M., Hayn, D. And Schreier, S, (2010), The Internet of Things for Ambient Assisted Living, In Proc. IEEE 7th International Conference on Information Technology, pp. 804-809, April 2010.
9. Pique, S, (2013), RFID, RTLS and NFC in Healthcare, White Paper from RFID in Healthcare Consortium, [Online] Accessed 30th March 2014, http://www.pique.ch/uploads/8/6/7/5/8675709/whitepaper_rfid_in_healthcare.pdf
10. Stirling University (2012), The Virtual Dementia House, [Online] Accessed 30th March 2014, http://dementia.stir.ac.uk/virtualhome
11. WhatIs.com, (2014), Definition of Internet of Things (IOT), [Online] Accessed 30th March 2014, http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/Internet-of-Things Stirling House http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-tayside-central-12552520
12. IERC (2012), The Internet of Things 2012, New Horizons, Internet of Things European Research Cluster 3rd Edition of the Cluster Book (I G Smith, O Vermesan, P Friess and A Furness, EDs), ISBN: 978 - 0 - 9553707 - 9 – 3, Halifax, UK, 2012.
13. Sumair Jawaid and Rachel McCrindle, Computerised help information and interaction project for people with memory loss and mild dementia, Accepted for International Journal of Disability and Human Development (IJDHD).
14. Alzheimer’s Society, (2013), Dementia 2013 infographic [Online] Accessed 30th March 2014, http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/infographic
15. Carers Trust, (2014), Key facts about carers, [Online] Accessed 30th March 2014, http://www.carers.org/key-facts-about-carers

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