Researchers at the University of Gävle have received funding from the Swedish Research Council to develop technology which helps older people and people with disabilities to improve their balance; Sven Blomqvist’s research focuses on how to adapt physical activity to these groups.
How to make exercise fun
The AR glasses used never replace reality but expand it slightly, and they feel like sunglasses. With the AR glasses, the physiotherapist can record the individuals doing the exercises at home, who can then watch themselves doing the exercises while receiving instructions.
“Many older people find it hard to remember what to do, so we give them the possibility to watch themselves doing the actual exercise, for instance lifting a coffee cup. It becomes realistic and fun.”
“You can't take away everything”
“Falling is a great risk for older people, so balance is important,” Sven says. “We can remove rugs and threshold in their rooms, but you need to stay active and we can’t take away everything. This is a huge problem for society. Our healthcare system is on its knees and needs to use its resources more efficiently. Our technology can change this situation, as our glasses are tools that help older people improve their balance before the accident.”
Older people very positive
In a preparatory study, the researchers designed a test in which eight older people with balance problems exercised with AG glasses. In general, those eight people were very positive, not least because this technology gave them the opportunity to exercise at home.
“Actually, we know a lot about balance training. Now, we focus on how to use that knowledge in applying AG technology,” Sven Blomqvist says.