Aged Care

Google funds $2m dementia music therapy app pilot

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An app harnessing music, wearable tech and AI to provide personalised therapy for dementia patients has been awarded a $2 million grant by Google’s philanthropic arm to pilot in Australia.

Developed by the University of Melbourne researchers, MATCH (Music Attuned Technology – Care via eHealth) aims to address agitation in dementia patients by detecting early signs and providing soothing, preferred music to regulate mood.

“Many carers of people with dementia recognise music’s value in supporting wellbeing. We are creating a better everyday life for dementia patients and caregivers using music’s proven benefits with wearable sensors and AI,” said Professor Felicity Baker, principal investigator.

The app oversees a cycle of detecting agitation behaviours through sensors, analysing data and adapting music interventions to sync with an individual’s needs. This personalised approach can significantly decrease agitation.

“Even the smallest change in agitation reduces care costs per person, and will reduce the need to use pharmacological interventions that can increase confusion and have other side effects,” Professor Baker explained. “Our app will overcome access and equity barriers by providing support to people with dementia whenever and wherever it is needed..”

Professor Lars Kulik is leading the AI and wearable integration. “The music-adaptive system will be integrated within this app. We are looking for residential aged care homes, and people living with dementia at home, to come forward and be involved in testing our app prototype and the development of the music-adaptive system,” he said.

The University of Melbourne is the only Australian recipient of Google.org’s $25 million AI Impact Challenge supporting projects utilising AI for social good. MATCH will be piloted in Australia before expanding globally.

“We are inspired by the possibilities they see for how AI can be harnessed to help people solve societal problems, and are excited about the collective impact they will have over the next three years,” said Google’s SVP of Research James Manyika.

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