Special Issue "Selected Papers from the 10th International Conference on Pervasive Technologies Related to Assistive Environments (PETRA)"

A special issue of Technologies (ISSN 2227-7080). This special issue belongs to the section "Assistive Technologies".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 October 2017)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Fillia Makedon

Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Texas at Arlington, TX, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: Human Computer Interaction (HCI); pervasive computing; machine learning; computational multimedia; cognitive computing
Guest Editor
Dr. Vassilis Athitsos

Computer Science and Engineering Department, University of Texas at Arlington, MA, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: computer vision; machine learning; data mining
Co-Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Mario Munoz-Organero

Telematics Engineering Department, University Carlos III de Madrid, Av. Universidad, 30, 28911 Leganes, Madrid, Spain
Website | E-Mail
Interests: wearable technologies for health and wellbeing applications; mobile and pervasive computing for assistive living; Internet of Things and assistive technologies; machine learning algorithms for physiological; inertial and location sensors; personal assistants and coaching for health self-management; activity detection and prediction methods

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Please visit this site: http://petrae.org/, for a detailed description of this Special Issue. The Special Issue will mainly consist of selected papers presented at the 10th International Conference on Pervasive Technologies Related to Assistive Environments (PETRA).

Prof. Dr. Fillia Makedon
Dr. Vassilis Athitsos
Prof. Dr. Mario Munoz-Organero
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Technologies is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 350 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Socially Assistive Robotics: Robot Exercise Trainer for Older Adults
Technologies 2018, 6(1), 32; https://doi.org/10.3390/technologies6010032
Received: 1 November 2017 / Revised: 6 March 2018 / Accepted: 7 March 2018 / Published: 10 March 2018
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Abstract
Physical activities have tremendous benefit to older adults. A report from the World Health Organization has mentioned that lack of physical activity contributed to around 3.2 million premature deaths annually worldwide. Research also shows that regular exercise helps the older adults by improving
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Physical activities have tremendous benefit to older adults. A report from the World Health Organization has mentioned that lack of physical activity contributed to around 3.2 million premature deaths annually worldwide. Research also shows that regular exercise helps the older adults by improving their physical fitness, immune system, sleep and stress levels, not to mention the countless health problems it reduces such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dementia, obesity, joint pains, etc. The research reported in this paper is introducing a Socially Assistive Robot (SAR) that will engage, coach, assess and motivate the older adults in physical exercises that are recommended by the National Health Services (NHS) in the UK. With the rise in the population of older adults, which is expected to triple by 2050, this SAR will aim to improve the quality of life for a significant proportion of the population. To assess the proposed robot exercise trainer, user’s observational evaluation with 17 participants is conducted. Participants are generally happy with the proposed platform as a mean of encouraging them to do regular exercise correctly. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Dance Pose Identification from Motion Capture Data: A Comparison of Classifiers
Technologies 2018, 6(1), 31; https://doi.org/10.3390/technologies6010031
Received: 18 December 2017 / Revised: 3 March 2018 / Accepted: 6 March 2018 / Published: 9 March 2018
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Abstract
In this paper, we scrutinize the effectiveness of classification techniques in recognizing dance types based on motion-captured human skeleton data. In particular, the goal is to identify poses which are characteristic for each dance performed, based on information on body joints, acquired by
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In this paper, we scrutinize the effectiveness of classification techniques in recognizing dance types based on motion-captured human skeleton data. In particular, the goal is to identify poses which are characteristic for each dance performed, based on information on body joints, acquired by a Kinect sensor. The datasets used include sequences from six folk dances and their variations. Multiple pose identification schemes are applied using temporal constraints, spatial information, and feature space distributions for the creation of an adequate training dataset. The obtained results are evaluated and discussed. Full article
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Open AccessArticle User’s Emotions and Usability Study of a Brain-Computer Interface Applied to People with Cerebral Palsy
Technologies 2018, 6(1), 28; https://doi.org/10.3390/technologies6010028
Received: 15 November 2017 / Revised: 22 February 2018 / Accepted: 23 February 2018 / Published: 28 February 2018
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Abstract
People with motor and communication disorders face serious challenges in interacting with computers. To enhance this functionality, new human-computer interfaces are being studied. In this work, a brain-computer interface based on the Emotiv Epoc is used to analyze human-computer interactions in cases of
[...] Read more.
People with motor and communication disorders face serious challenges in interacting with computers. To enhance this functionality, new human-computer interfaces are being studied. In this work, a brain-computer interface based on the Emotiv Epoc is used to analyze human-computer interactions in cases of cerebral palsy. The Phrase-Composer software was developed to interact with the brain-computer interface. A system usability evaluation was carried out with the participation of three specialists from The Fundação Catarinense de Educação especial (FCEE) and four cerebral palsy volunteers. Even though the System Usability Scale (SUS) score was acceptable, several challenges remain. Raw electroencephalography (EEG) data were also analyzed in order to assess the user’s emotions during their interaction with the communication device. This study brings new evidences about human-computer interaction related to individuals with cerebral palsy. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Experiments with a First Prototype of a Spatial Model of Cultural Meaning through Natural-Language Human-Robot Interaction
Received: 30 October 2017 / Revised: 17 December 2017 / Accepted: 4 January 2018 / Published: 11 January 2018
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Abstract
When using assistive systems, the consideration of individual and cultural meaning is crucial for the utility and acceptance of technology. Orientation, communication and interaction are rooted in perception and therefore always happen in material space. We understand that a major problem lies in
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When using assistive systems, the consideration of individual and cultural meaning is crucial for the utility and acceptance of technology. Orientation, communication and interaction are rooted in perception and therefore always happen in material space. We understand that a major problem lies in the difference between human and technical perception of space. Cultural policies are based on meanings including their spatial situation and their rich relationships. Therefore, we have developed an approach where the different perception systems share a hybrid spatial model that is generated by artificial intelligence—a joint effort by humans and assistive systems. The aim of our project is to create a spatial model of cultural meaning based on interaction between humans and robots. We define the role of humanoid robots as becoming our companions. This calls for technical systems to include still inconceivable human and cultural agendas for the perception of space. In two experiments, we tested a first prototype of the communication module that allows a humanoid to learn cultural meanings through a machine learning system. Interaction is achieved by non-verbal and natural-language communication between humanoids and test persons. This helps us to better understand how a spatial model of cultural meaning can be developed. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Blind MuseumTourer: A System for Self-Guided Tours in Museums and Blind Indoor Navigation
Received: 18 November 2017 / Revised: 18 December 2017 / Accepted: 29 December 2017 / Published: 4 January 2018
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Abstract
Notably valuable efforts have focused on helping people with special needs. In this work, we build upon the experience from the BlindHelper smartphone outdoor pedestrian navigation app and present Blind MuseumTourer, a system for indoor interactive autonomous navigation for blind and visually impaired
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Notably valuable efforts have focused on helping people with special needs. In this work, we build upon the experience from the BlindHelper smartphone outdoor pedestrian navigation app and present Blind MuseumTourer, a system for indoor interactive autonomous navigation for blind and visually impaired persons and groups (e.g., pupils), which has primarily addressed blind or visually impaired (BVI) accessibility and self-guided tours in museums. A pilot prototype has been developed and is currently under evaluation at the Tactual Museum with the collaboration of the Lighthouse for the Blind of Greece. This paper describes the functionality of the application and evaluates candidate indoor location determination technologies, such as wireless local area network (WLAN) and surface-mounted assistive tactile route indications combined with Bluetooth low energy (BLE) beacons and inertial dead-reckoning functionality, to come up with a reliable and highly accurate indoor positioning system adopting the latter solution. The developed concepts, including map matching, a key concept for indoor navigation, apply in a similar way to other indoor guidance use cases involving complex indoor places, such as in hospitals, shopping malls, airports, train stations, public and municipality buildings, office buildings, university buildings, hotel resorts, passenger ships, etc. The presented Android application is effectively a Blind IndoorGuide system for accurate and reliable blind indoor navigation. Full article
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Open AccessArticle The Development of Assistive Systems to Support Older People: Issues that Affect Success in Practice
Received: 30 October 2017 / Revised: 4 December 2017 / Accepted: 14 December 2017 / Published: 22 December 2017
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Abstract
Due to an aging population in Europe, the development of Ambient Assisted Living technologies (AAL) is increasingly the target of research financing. These technologies promise to enable older people to remain in their own homes longer, something many people report wanting and which
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Due to an aging population in Europe, the development of Ambient Assisted Living technologies (AAL) is increasingly the target of research financing. These technologies promise to enable older people to remain in their own homes longer, something many people report wanting and which may also reduce the costs of care. To date however there are few systems on the market. Other studies have tried to understand this by looking at user acceptance. However, by looking only at the user acceptance, we may miss important aspects to explain why systems went wrong in the first place, since decisions made during the development may affect the success later. To address this, we report on a study in which we applied qualitative methods, including workshops and an interactive poster, to consult with people who have experience in the development of these technologies. We present the common issues reported across various AAL development projects done in Europe that the participants thought were important to the success or failure of projects. We also describe some ideas from participants for addressing some of these problems. The results demonstrate the importance of issues related to financing with grants for projects but also the need for improved user-centered practice. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Reminder Objects in the Connected Home of the Future and Beyond
Received: 29 November 2017 / Revised: 14 December 2017 / Accepted: 18 December 2017 / Published: 21 December 2017
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Abstract
This paper presents best practices on how to design reminder objects. Reminder objects are digitally augmented everyday objects that break down and communicate complex information via sensory input and output. In the first section of this paper, we introduce reminder objects—what they are
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This paper presents best practices on how to design reminder objects. Reminder objects are digitally augmented everyday objects that break down and communicate complex information via sensory input and output. In the first section of this paper, we introduce reminder objects—what they are and how they work. We then describe our understanding of computing and the interaction between humans and technology, in detail, in the second section. We then present our vision on how reminder objects can enrich the user’s experience by combining different objects. We then use the three following sections to showcase corresponding examples of our work in the previously described field. Next, three scenarios—people with dementia living an independent life at home, checking the weather, and navigating the city—will illustrate our understanding of reminder objects. The paper then concludes with a discussion of the presented work and an outlook regarding the future of reminder objects. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle A Stochastic Memory Model for ADL Detection in Human Households
Technologies 2017, 5(4), 78; https://doi.org/10.3390/technologies5040078
Received: 16 October 2017 / Revised: 17 November 2017 / Accepted: 24 November 2017 / Published: 30 November 2017
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Abstract
Many Human Activity Recognition (HAR) systems are able to detect sequential executed Activity of Daily Living (ADL). However, a person is capable of doing two things in parallel or pausing one ADL and finishing it later. Thus, a HAR system must be capable
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Many Human Activity Recognition (HAR) systems are able to detect sequential executed Activity of Daily Living (ADL). However, a person is capable of doing two things in parallel or pausing one ADL and finishing it later. Thus, a HAR system must be capable of remembering and deciding which ADL is completed and which might be continued after the current ADL. We address this case by combining a stochastic Markov model and a psychological memory function to detect parallel ADL. For the evaluation, we use an input dataset and a publicly available benchmark. Our approach outperforms the leading HAR systems for the used benchmark by 5%, while using a more cost-effective installation environment. Furthermore, we address an unsupervised learning method to train the HAR system and explain the algorithm of parallel ADL detection in detail. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Motion Instruction Method Using Head Motion-Associated Virtual Stereo Rearview
Technologies 2017, 5(4), 77; https://doi.org/10.3390/technologies5040077
Received: 27 October 2017 / Revised: 24 November 2017 / Accepted: 30 November 2017 / Published: 30 November 2017
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Abstract
In recent years, virtual reality (VR) technologies have been increasingly used for teaching motion skills to learners. In this paper, the authors employed a VR assistive system for teaching motion skills to learners by the use of an inertial sensor-embedded head-mount-display (HMD). As
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In recent years, virtual reality (VR) technologies have been increasingly used for teaching motion skills to learners. In this paper, the authors employed a VR assistive system for teaching motion skills to learners by the use of an inertial sensor-embedded head-mount-display (HMD). As a step of the development, we studied a motion instruction method using “Head Motion-Associated virtual stereo Rearview (HMAR in short)”, and conducted a study on pose-recognition under a time-consuming vision-restricted condition. Under this condition, subjects were to ensure their remembrance only by vision and taking enough time, and not by using proprioception. The time consuming condition is considered to be antithetical to the instantaneous less time consuming condition, and is expected to contribute to deepening the understanding of the effect of the HMAR. In the experiment, reference poses are displayed to learners with the use of a VR system. In the system, the learners observe the virtual stereo rearview via HMD, and perceive and reproduce the displayed reference poses. Here, the virtual stereo camera that is assumed to observe the reference avatar is associated with the learner’s head motion. The virtual stereo camera is moved around the reference avatar away from the back of the avatar’s head in accordance with the head-rotating motion. As the HMAR was compared with two representative ordinary methods, i.e., a key-switched rearview (KSR) and a mouse-associated rearview (MAR), the elapsed time of the HMAR showed significantly smaller variance, although did not show any significant difference in the mean. Full article
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Open AccessArticle A Consumer Health Information System to Assist Patients Select Quality Home Health Services
Technologies 2017, 5(4), 76; https://doi.org/10.3390/technologies5040076
Received: 1 November 2017 / Revised: 21 November 2017 / Accepted: 23 November 2017 / Published: 29 November 2017
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Abstract
Patients evaluate the quality of home health agencies (HHAs) using the Health Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey. This paper describes a prototype community health information system to help patients select appropriate and quality HHAs, according to the location, proprietary
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Patients evaluate the quality of home health agencies (HHAs) using the Health Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey. This paper describes a prototype community health information system to help patients select appropriate and quality HHAs, according to the location, proprietary status, type of service, and year of HHA establishment. Five HCAHPS indicators were selected: “summary rating”, “quality of care”, “professional care”, “communication”, and “recommend agency”. Independent t-test analysis showed that agencies offering Speech Pathology, Medical-Social, or Home Health Aide services, receive significantly worse HCAHPS ratings, while mean ratings vary significantly across different US states. Multiple comparisons with post hoc ANOVA revealed differences between and within HHAs of different proprietary status (p < 0.001): governmental HHAs receiving higher ratings than private HHAs. Finally, there was observed a relationship between all five quality rating variables and the HHA year of establishment (Pearson, p < 0.001). The older the agency is, the better the HCAPS summary ratings. Findings provided the knowledge to design of a consumer health information system, to provide rankings filtered according to user criteria, comparing the quality rankings of eligible HHAs. Users can also see how a specific agency is ranked against eligible HHAs. Ultimately, the system aims to support the patient community with contextually realistic comparisons in an effort to choose optimal HH service. Full article
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Open AccessArticle User Evaluation of the MOBOT Rollator Type Robotic Mobility Assistive Device
Technologies 2017, 5(4), 73; https://doi.org/10.3390/technologies5040073
Received: 26 September 2017 / Revised: 8 November 2017 / Accepted: 15 November 2017 / Published: 18 November 2017
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Abstract
In this paper, we report on the evaluation strategy and the results that were obtained from the final end-user evaluation process of an innovative robotic assistive device supporting mobility. More specifically, the paper deals with the evaluation of the MOBOT robotic rollator as
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In this paper, we report on the evaluation strategy and the results that were obtained from the final end-user evaluation process of an innovative robotic assistive device supporting mobility. More specifically, the paper deals with the evaluation of the MOBOT robotic rollator as regards to the system’s overall performance and its individual assistive characteristics and functionalities, as implemented in respect to (i) the provided cognitive assistance, and (ii) the adopted audio-gestural human-robot communication model. User evaluation was designed on the basis of an extensive survey of scales and methodologies widely reported in the relevant literature. The actual evaluation phase exploited the QUEST 2.0, ATDPA-Device Form, and PYTHEIA scales to measure the subjective satisfaction of the users. The PYTHEIA scale, in particular, was structured in order to fill the gaps that were identified during the study of previously existing tools for measuring assistive device user satisfaction. The scale was applied for the first time during the reported evaluation process. An analysis of the results showed that MOBOT was ranked very high by end users in all of the aspects addressed by the three employed assessment scales, thus providing significant evidence for positive acceptance of any industrialized outcome of the current prototype in the assistive robots market. Full article
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Other

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Open AccessConcept Paper Emergency Response Cyber-Physical Framework for Landslide Avoidance with Sustainable Electronics
Technologies 2018, 6(2), 42; https://doi.org/10.3390/technologies6020042
Received: 15 March 2018 / Revised: 10 April 2018 / Accepted: 11 April 2018 / Published: 18 April 2018
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Abstract
An Emergency Response (ER) Cyber-Physical System (CPS) to avoid landslides and survey areas located on or near slopes is introduced that handles two problems: electronic waste disposal, and environmental disasters. Uncomplicated detection circuits using salvaged components can pinpoint floods in impoverished regions. CPSs
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An Emergency Response (ER) Cyber-Physical System (CPS) to avoid landslides and survey areas located on or near slopes is introduced that handles two problems: electronic waste disposal, and environmental disasters. Uncomplicated detection circuits using salvaged components can pinpoint floods in impoverished regions. CPSs simplify hazard prediction and mitigation in disaster supervision. Nonetheless, few green practices and efforts have been accomplished in this regard. Recent technical advances help landslides studies and the evaluation of suitable risk alleviation measures. This work addresses in situ meters, and cameras to observe ground movements more accurately. The ER-CPS identifies and can help mitigate landslides using techniques based on motion detection that can productively predict and monitor the zone conditions to classify it, and the landslide-related data can be transmitted to inspecting stations to lessen the erosion/sedimentation likelihood while increasing security. Full article
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