The invention implements a novel algorithm that, starting from the information contained in a BIM model, integrates IoT technology to control indoor automation. Leveraging the 3D model, it allows the navigation of virtual environments to patients suffering from motor neuron degradation (e.g. ALS) and it enables interaction with common objects such as electrical systems, doors and windows.
In Italy, ASLs rent electronic assistive devices and grant them on loan for use. Products are addressed to patients affected by diseases that degrade motor neurons (e.g. ALS), hospitalized at dedicated health facilities or cared at home. SrLabs and Dialog Medical Aids are the Italian market leaders. In this scenario, our technology aims to:
- Improve existing systems so that the patient can interact with the environment.
- Facilitate the emergence of new procedures for monitoring and remote control of vital parameters.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a rare disease with a strong social impact: patients’ mental functions remain intact, while they progressively lose control of all voluntary muscles. The only way they can communicate is through eye movement. Today, the systems of choice for assistance are Eye Gaze Communicator Devices, which allow a virtual keyboard to be controlled through eyes. These devices are based on a closed operating system, their update is often difficult and their software infrastructure is monolithic, therefore subject to frequent failures. With these considerations in mind, the need for a modern approach integrated into Eye Gaze systems arose. Emerging technologies were therefore used, providing an innovative system to give these patients back more independence.
The goal is the implementation of a Virtual Reality (VR) oriented technology that can give more autonomy in the daily actions of patients and that can allow their monitoring by health professionals. These functions are realized thanks to Building Information Modeling (BIM), a method to optimize the planning, construction and management of buildings through parametric 3D models.
The mainstay of the proposed work is an advanced micro services architecture, which controls the BIM model, databases and communication of an Internet of Things (IoT) system.
Current Technology Limits
Among the wide range of existing communication devices for ALS, several technologies can be identified and they are listed below.
A custom solution is based on the use of the PC with an external Gaze eye through an open keyboard: an interactive plug-in can be created and easily integrated. However, the system has no guidelines for use and it may be simple only for advanced users. AIDA EyeClick is the basic solution for the middle stage of the disease and uses a WebCam, but it consists of a limited interface with the outside world and it is unsuitable for the late stages of the disease. Tobii Series I is an all-in-one tracker and tablet solution, allowing for basic daily actions and configuration of proprietary IoT systems. However, it does not have a distributed architecture and it only uses internal interactive eye content. Auxilia TM4 EyeGaze, Eyegaze Edge and VisALS are born with a proprietary operating system, closed against external modifications. Among them, the VisALS uses smart home control devices to perform IoT actions. The TobiiDynavox EyeMobile Plus leverages the use of the desktop, so third-party plug-ins and tools to enhance functionality are implementable.
Not all of them involve only the eyes use and could assist patients to the final stage.
Our Technology and Solution
Thanks to the BIM/IoT assonance, the invention focuses on a novel eye communication system that can increase the level of autonomy of motor neuron degeneration patients with the environment. The IoT system collects input sent by users via hardware equipped with an Eye-Tracking sensor, it controls the environment through the activation of actuators monitors environmental parameters through data shared by sensors. The technology focuses on the elaboration of a Digital Twin based on BIM models, graphic and alphanumeric databases, which describe the concerned environment with also information related to the installed sensors. The system involves different users who share information to innovate the healthcare and construction sectors, and it also gives greater autonomy to patients with telemedicine. The open source service allows to implement real actions through virtual models.
This Open technology allows the patient to acquire more autonomy and control over the objects that surround him/her (such as television, household appliances, blinds, etc..), thus trying to enrich the sphere of independance that has been lost with the onset of the disease. Moreover, it will be able to autonomously control environmental parameters, such as temperature and relative humidity. In addition, it also offers the possibility for doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals to have quick access to the patient’s parameters in a single platform in order to monitor his behavior.
A collaboration with a company producing an all-in-one communicator on which to implement our technology is being defined, since the product requires hardware. Questionnaires have been distributed to patients and healthcare professionals to understand the direction in which the uses of the algorithm should be oriented. The technology will be tested outside the laboratory context to understand the ease of models navigation and usability. Finally, the creation of a dashboard platform for tele-monitoring of patients by physicians will be prepared.