Virtual tool, real impact: Prof Miao Chunyan

 

In a rapidly ageing world, new technologies are urgently needed to meet the needs of the population. The call to innovate has been heeded by Prof Miao Chunyan, the founding Director of the first AI-empowered, interdisciplinary ageing research centre in Singapore.

At the Joint NTU-UBC Research Centre of Excellence in Active Living for the Elderly (LILY), Prof Miao leads a team of 65 researchers to support the silver generation through innovative AI solutions. LILY was established through a collaboration with Canada’s University of British Columbia (UBC) with funding support from Singapore’s National Research Foundation.

“At LILY, we develop technologies that aim to help society gain a deeper understanding of the elderly population’s needs and preferences, and that empower senior citizens to lead an active, independent and dignified lifestyle,” says Prof Miao, who is with NTU’s School of Computer Science and Engineering.

Over the years, Prof Miao and her team have been working on combining human intelligence, AI and behavioural data analytics. Her projects include AR and VR technologies to assess a person’s activities of daily living, smart home technology to encourage ageing in place, and AI-powered exergames—interactive fitness games that help in the prediction, early detection and rehabilitation of patients with neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, stroke and dementia.

Instead of viewing seniors as a homogeneously frail group in constant need of assistance, Prof Miao’s team is changing the narrative entirely, by developing a crowdsourced AI-based productive ageing platform that makes it easy and convenient for seniors to contribute their time, skills and knowledge to society.

In 2018, a widely deployed AI system for social insurance service provisioning based on Prof Miao’s research received the much-coveted Innovative Applications of AI Award from the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence in recognition of its significant societal impact. Prof Miao also plays a pivotal role in the Alibaba-NTU Singapore Joint Research Institute, in which she leads the exploration of new AI research directions with a team of over 30 principal investigators from NTU, Australia, Canada and China.

The article appeared first in NTU’s research & innovation magazine Pushing Frontiers (issue #13, June 2018).

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