The University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s (UWTSD) Assistive Technologies Innovation Centre (ATiC) has won the Benefitting Society award in this year’s Green Gown Awards UK and Ireland.
The 2022 winners were announced last earlier this month, at a ceremony held at Loughborough University.
Established in 2004, the Green Gown Awards celebrate the exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities and colleges.
The Benefitting Society award recognised ATiC for its innovative research collaboration with Swansea enterprise eHealth Digital Media Ltd.
The Seeing dementia through their eyes (Living with Dementia) project involved research by the ATiC team over a period of just over a year to inform a series of 10 new films from Newton-based eHealth Digital Media.
The films, about the daily lives and challenges of people living with dementia, focus on delivering support, training, and education for dementia patients, their families, carers, and healthcare professionals.
ATiC is an integrated research centre which puts user-centred thinking and strategic innovation tools into practice through its cutting-edge user experience (UX) and usability evaluation research facility located in Swansea’s Innovation Quarter in SA1.
Digital communications company eHealth Digital Media produce and deliver behavioural change content such as high-quality content information films through its established PocketMedic platform.
The project used advanced UX and human behavioural research tools, such as eye-tracking and facial expression recognition technology, in the creation and evaluation of the films.
The ATiC team worked closely with eHealth Digital Media’s Creative Director Kimberley Littlemore, whose parents – the late Clive, who sadly passed away last week and Pauline Jenkins, in their 80s – both lived with dementia and were her inspiration for the research project.
Kimberley Littlemore described last night’s win as:
“A wonderful tribute to my lovely father Clive Jenkins who died last week. His contribution to the understanding of dementia lives on.”
Cameras were set up around Clive and Pauline’s home to keep track of their daily lives. Additionally, the couple used wearable eye-tracking glasses while performing household activities, so the team could ‘see the world through their eyes.’
This footage helped the team to detect and understand any patterns and triggers over time and to pick out key moments, which could be analysed and discussed further by clinicians and academics in the field.
The films are available on eHealth Digital Media’s PocketMedic platform, which delivers high-quality health information films ‘prescribed’ by clinicians to support their patients in managing their health.
As the learning materials are screen-based and not published or print-based, they are readily accessible to end users with minimal carbon footprint.
The films are also available to view free of charge in Wales thanks to funding from Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board.
The Seeing dementia through their eyes (Living with Dementia) project was supported through Accelerate, a pioneering collaboration between three of Wales’ universities, Cardiff University (Clinical Innovation Accelerator), Swansea University (Healthcare Technology Centre), UWTSD (ATiC), and Life Sciences Hub Wales.
Co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, the Welsh European Funding Office, Welsh Government's Health and Social Services group, universities, Life Sciences Hub Wales, and the health boards, the aim of the Accelerate programme is to create lasting economic value for Wales.
Professor Ian Walsh, Provost of UWTSD Swansea and Cardiff Campuses, and Director of ATiC said:
“I’m delighted UWTSD’s commitment to sustainable development through its research activity has again been recognised in these prestigious national awards. It reaffirms the importance of partnership and collaboration between the University and enterprises in accelerating innovation and developing more sustainable models of practice.”
Tim Stokes, ATiC Innovation Fellow and project lead, said:
“It all sounds highly technical but at the heart of it all, it simply involves understanding people. Understanding how they interact with each other; understanding their needs; and helping to develop the best health and wellbeing products, services, and systems – placing people at the heart of the research.
“Initially this project began life as a simple experiment that sprang from the idea of Kimberley wanting ‘to see dementia through her parents’ eyes’ – and we were literally able to help her do that by using our mobile retinal tracking glasses.
“It has helped us to understand how people with dementia live and understand what types of challenges they face on a daily basis.”
Kimberley Littlemore, Creative Director of eHealth Digital Media, said:
“Demonstrating and sharing the lived experience of dementia, with its ups as well as its downs, has proven to be an inspirational way of delivering information and building confidence in carers and family members.
“Looking through the UX evaluation, it is so encouraging and rewarding to read that people feel more confident about supporting people to live well with dementia as a result of watching these films.
“We are very proud of our collaboration with ATiC to see dementia through the eyes of my parents. The eye tracking technology allowed us to demonstrate and share through film in a very human way what researchers had been describing in their papers about changes in visual perception in people living with dementia.
“I have nothing but admiration for my parents, who allowed me to share their journey. Something good is coming out of an incredibly challenging situation for us all.”