DC’s AI Hub is using AI to improve home care

The Durham College Hub for Applied Research in Artificial Intelligence for Business Systems (AI Hub) and iCare Home Health (iCare) are partnering to bring advanced AI features to iCare’s mobile application for distant healthcare delivery. 

The Health Espresso app, which serves Canadians who are in home-based post recovery from an operation or simply aging in the familiar surroundings of home, virtually monitors patients’ medication adherence and tracks their body readings to reduce critical health events leading to hospital admissions. Current features include audible reminders of medication dosage timing and tracking medication intake.

The new features under development add AI functionality that brings voice control through natural language detection and processing (think Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa) and a prescriptive action framework that provides smart suggestions for enhanced care and compliance with the recovery schedule. For example, the app could intuit a need to take action, such as giving an audible reminder, after a certain amount of inactivity.

“Speech recognition, recommendation generation and the implementation of a flexible machine learning framework will enhance the user friendliness of Health Espresso for our intended target market,” says Rick Menassa, president and CEO, iCare. “This type of innovation is solidifying Canada’s leadership in AI internationally and showcases DC’s AI Hub and its position at the forefront of implementing AI technology in business solutions.”

Led by DC professor Amit Maraj, the project provides student working as researcher assistants (RAs) to gain valuable AI and project development skills that will differentiate them from other graduates upon entering the workforce.  AI and the multi-disciplinary skills required to implement AI techniques within a business are some of the most coveted and sought-after skills by firms around the world, ranging from small start-ups to multinationals.

The RAs working under Professor Maraj’s supervision are currently implementing in-app speech recognition and will begin building the intent-based model for application control shortly after. By the end of the 33-week project, the RAs will have gained a solid theoretical understanding of AI techniques, including Deep Neural Networks and Recurrent Neural Networks with practical expertise implementing them in commercial business solutions.

“This project is providing me with opportunities to further my knowledge, not only from a technical stand point but also from a team-building standpoint,” says RA Nicholas Carpenter, a third-year Computer Programmer Analyst student. “By building something from the ground up, this is helping me see the entire process of starting a new project. Being on the bleeding edge of technology and designing AI to help people in need has been a great experience.”

Adds Menassa, “The potential of data, smartphone apps, sensors and AI to improve healthcare for all is nearly limitless. Partnering with and leveraging Durham College’s pool of exceptional talent and skills has been a positive experience and a natural fit from the onset. iCare is looking forward to continuing our collaboration with DC for years to come.”

The AI project has already spawned two additional projects between the organizations.

Housed within the college’s Office of Research Services, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ORSIE), the AI Hub offers small and medium enterprises a much-needed access point to the rapidly growing field of AI.  Companies interested in how AI and digital transformation can enhance their businesses are encouraged to visit www.durhamcollege.ca/theAIHub or contact the AI Hub team directly via email or phone at 905.721.3223.