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Dementia avatar wins technology award

Dementia Australia and Deakin University have won a Victorian technology award for their avatar ‘Ted’, developed to enable professional carers to learn how best to communicate with people living with dementia.

‘Ted the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Avatar Living with Dementia’, developed by Dementia Australia and Deakin University’s Applied Artificial Intelligence Institute (A2I2), won the Victorian iAward in the Not-For-Profit and Community Solution of the Year category on 13 October 2020.

Ted the AI Avatar will be launched to market early in 2021.

Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe said traditionally, education for aged care workers consists of a classroom scenario with a facilitator, PowerPoint and group discussion.

“By using this technology, rather than educating care workers on good principles of communication for people living with dementia, they experience them through trial and error in conversation with ‘Ted’ in a safe and encouraging learning environment.

Ted the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Avatar Living with Dementia

Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe

“This award demonstrates our commitment to utilising world-first applications of serious games and virtual reality technologies as a point of difference, globally, and advocating for and influencing changes in dementia policy and practice,” Ms McCabe said.

A2I2 Co-Director Professor Kon Mouzakis said ‘Ted’ was developed using the Unity game engine and to provide realism, all visual expressions and emotions were captured using a facial motion capture system on an actor.

“A preliminary evaluation of ‘Ted’ showed that it helped aged care workers develop increased confidence and a greater sense of just how impactful good communication skills can be on a person living with dementia,” Professor Mouzakis said.

“Our evaluation showed 100% of aged care workers recalled the five principles of positive communication eight weeks after their learning experience – in contrast, only 20% recalled these principles using traditional learning models.”

“It is this active learning approach that enables ‘Ted’ to make a truly positive difference in people’s lives – improving the level of care and quality of life of those living with dementia,” Ms McCabe said.

Dementia Australia will now compete in the National iAwards to be announced on 17 November 2020.

The iAwards Program engages the most experienced and respected judges in the industry from a variety of backgrounds, such as C-level executives, entrepreneurs and capital raisers and commercialisation experts, academics, and technology subject matter experts. This helps to ensure the iAwards program identifies the best in Australian innovation each year.

For inquiries about ‘Ted the AI Avatar’ email CDL@dementia.org.au

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