Researchers at the Cheriton School of Computer Science have pioneered a new method that could be used to develop more natural automated virtual assistants to help people suffering from mental illness.
Called SMERTI (pronounced smarty), the new method enables virtual assistants to use natural language and emotional cues that change depending on the relationship and situations in which they are used. The result allows for the development of virtual assistants that better connect with people they are used to help.
People suffering from the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease often have difficulty remembering things that recently happened to them. As the disease takes root, a person’s reasoning and behaviour can change. Day-to-day routines — like handwashing — may become challenging for them and they begin to need more assistance from caregivers for simple tasks.