Deakin University is home to new a $3 million collaborative research hub which will focus on delivering technological innovations and smart homes to help older Australians and people with disability remain in the community.
The Digital Enhanced Living Hub was launched by education minister Dan Tehan and Housing Minister Michael Sukkar in Melbourne on August 15 as part of the government’s Industrial Transformation Research Hubs scheme.
Mr Tehan said the government’s funding commitment reflected the growing need for personalised and practical in-home care.
“This hub will develop new technologies that will improve the quality of life for Australians that need support to stay in their home, from young adults living with disability, people recovering from brain injury, through to older people in our communities,” Mr Tehan said.
He said research at the centre would improved monitoring, reduce rehabilitation and slow down cognitive decline.
“Our Government believes that Australians should be supported to stay in their homes,” Mr Sukkar said.
“We are investing in this research hub to help address the challenges of an ageing population through the development of new technologies.”
The centre aims to develop affordable, effective and safe in-home solutions including smartphone technology and digital learning tools for the elderly and people living with dementia, Deakin says.
“The Hub will give partners access to the research and development infrastructure capabilities and expertise from Deakin’s leading research laboratories including Applied Artificial Intelligence Institute (A2I2), Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN) and Institute for Health Transformation (IHT),” Director Professor Kon Mouzakis said.
Four projects underway
The centre is already working on four projects targeting independent living and mental well being, including the development of a “digital living assistant’, an avatar to educate carers on dementia care and an early intervention app to address anxiety and depression.
The projects are being developed in partnership with Uniting AgeWell, Dementia Australia, the Black Dog Institute respectively.
Flinders University in South Australia, as well as digital health company goACT and ECH. are also working with the hub on a system to pick up early risk of frailty in people living in the community.
“The Digital Enhanced Living Hub will use digital technology to address the related but different needs of high-quality ageing and high-quality disability and rehabilitation support to allow people to live at home independently for longer,” Deakin University Vice-Chancellor Iain Martin said.
“Collaboration will be key to the work of the Digital Enhanced Living Hub as industry partners outline their challenges and research teams find solutions. Together we will translate these outcomes into commercial use.”
The hub has nine industry partners from the aged care, mental health and health technology sectors as well as a number of University partners from Australia, New Zealand and Europe.
Researchers from the hub have already held face-to-face discussions about collaborative opportunities with their counterparts from the University of Copenhagen, who visited the centre in March.
Find out more about the centre here.