By Isabelle Viaud-Delmon et al.
Nowadays, technological improvements have changed the way that people communicate, sense and interact. Undoubtedly, these technological improvements have increased our capacities to understand the human brain and provided new ways to envisage healthcare.
A stronger integration between humans and technology represents an incredible opportunity to investigate human behaviour and analyze all the potentialities and advantages when used in the field of healthcare and rehabilitation.
The confluence between computers and human has opened new ways to improve the quality of life of the people, whether it is by providing new diagnostic tools, or developing innovative therapeutic approaches, improving and accelerating the rehabilitation process of the patients. Under the umbrella of Human Computer Confluence (HCC) there are several potentially interesting technologies for healthcare and rehabilitation, which are currently developed in the framework of European-funded projects.
For example, INTERSTRESS (http://www.interstress. eu) aims to design, develop and test an advanced ICT-based solution for the assessment and treatment of psychological stress applying an innovative paradigm for e-health – Interreality – that integrates assessment and treatment within a hybrid environment, bridging physical and virtual worlds. The patient is continuously assessed in the virtual and real worlds by tracking the behavioural and emotional status in the context of challenging tasks (customization of the therapy according to the characteristics of the patient).
Feedback is continuously provided to improve both the appraisal and the coping skills of the patient through a conditioned association between effective performance state and task execution behaviours (improvement of self efficacy). Within this conceptual framework, it is possible to set up and test psychological treatments that could be extended also beyond the traditional research and clinical setting by using more and more emerging mobile technology to deliver real-time interventions during daily activities and ecological contexts.
The VERVE project (http://www.verveconsortium. eu/) adopts a different approach, which aims at developing new technologies for clinical, home, and mobile platforms to support the treatment of and to improve the quality of life of people at risk of social exclusion. It concentrates on three use-cases: older adults and persons with Parkinson’s disease who experience mobility problems, persons suffering from apathy due to Alzheimer’s disease, and persons with anxiety disturbances.
The overall aim is to enable participants to undertake a set of daily tasks that could realistically be achieved in the setting of the observation room, in their home, or out in the environment through the use of the VR scenarios.
In the realm of HCC, non-invasive brain stimulation technologies provide a unique channel back to the brain with huge potential for interaction, communication and health in closed-loop systems. This technology has shown early promise in therapeutic applications for chronic pain, depression and stroke rehabilitation where neuromodulation has been shown to have positive effects. The HIVE project (http://hive-eu.org/) researches and develops a new generation of more powerful and controllable non-invasive brain stimulation technologies.
The project is developing improved electrical current distribution and multi-scale neuron-current interaction models to carry out stimulation experiments using Transcranial Current Stimulation (tCS) in different scenarios, and based on these develop multisite trans-cranial current stimulation technologies implementing real time EEG monitoring and feedback. HIVE will also explore high-level communication using stimulation, stimulation during different states of consciousness, as well as ‘sense synthesis’, that is, the construction of new perceptions deriving from sensors interacting directly with brains through stimulation systems all – with the goal of probing the limits of noninvasive computer-to-brain interfaces.
We believe that given the fundamental role of interaction in human experience, advances in HCC can deliver breakthrough health technologies of great value in addition to advancing the state-of-the-art in fundamental neuroscience research, neurology diagnosis and therapy.
Isabelle Viaud-Delmon IRCAM CNRS UPMC – UMR 9912 France
Andrea Gaggioli Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Milano Italy
Alois Ferscha Institute for Pervasive Computing, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria
Stephen Dunne Starlab Spain firstname.lastname@example.org
President of Virtual Reality Medical Institute (VRMI) in Brussels, Belgium. Executive VP Virtual Reality Medical Center (VRMC), based in San Diego and Los Angeles, California. CEO of Interactive Media Institute a 501c3 non-profit Clinical Instructor in Department of Psychiatry at UCSD Founder of CyberPsychology, CyberTherapy, & Social Networking Conference Visiting Professor at Catholic University Milan.