Could an app replace a trip to the doctor?

Babylon and Machine learning

There have been news reports this week on an app replacing a trip to the doctors: an app with a robot doctor that can triage, diagnose and even treat individuals over their phones. Some of these are:

Babylon puts a doctor in a machine, BBC Technology  

Babylon raises £50m to perfect its AI Doctor, CITY A.M.

Babylon raises $60m to build AI doctor to diagnose illnesses, Financial Times, FT.com

Our response

Our response to these news items and based on our ongoing research on the use of digital health wearables for self-monitoring and self-management of health is available here:

Could an app replace a trip to the doctor?

Workshop on Google Expeditions at the Geographical Association Conference

Photo: Smartphone-driven Virtual Reality-based Google Expeditions App workshop

Photo: Smartphone-driven Virtual Reality-based Google Expeditions App workshop

Workshop title: Investigating the role of virtual reality in geography via Google Expeditions at the Geographical Association's 2017 Annual Conference on Friday, 21 April at 9 am. 

Workshop organisers: Dr Steve Tilling, Dr Ana-Despina Tudor, Ms Becky Kitchen and Professor Shailey Minocha

About Google ExpeditionsGoogle Expeditions is a Virtual Reality mobile Application (app) which consists of field trips of places that students experience on a smartphone through a Virtual Reality (VR) viewer called Google cardboard.  The Google Expeditions app (available for Android and iOS platforms) has more than 500 expeditions. An expedition comprises of 360-degree photospheres of a location (e.g. Rio de Janeiro). Google Expeditions enable visualisation of locations which may not be feasible or easy to visit in real life (e.g. Galapagos islands or the Tolbachik volcano). Further, Google Expeditions have simulations to envision concepts and systems such as the human heart, the respiratory system, or the process of pollination.

Details of the workshop: Participants will have the opportunity of a hands-on session with Google Expeditions and will be invited to discuss/evaluate the outcomes of a Google-funded project that has investigated the role of virtual reality in geography and science school education.

Our research objectives for geography education in schools have been:

  • —Whether and how smartphone-based Virtual Reality with 360 photospheres like Google Expeditions (GEs) can be integrated in the Geography curriculum - e.g. teaching geographical concepts and phenomena
  • —How smartphone-driven Virtual Reality like in GEs can support geographical enquiry?
  • —How smartphone-driven Virtual Reality like in GEs can complement physical field trips?

In the workshop, we will specifically focus on the role of Virtual Reality in geographical enquiry - both in the context of classroom practice and for physical field trips.

ESRC Impact Acceleration Account Award

Photo: Workshop at The Open University's campus in October 2016.  The participants (people aged over 55 years) came in to discuss their experiences of using the activity monitoring trackers (Sir Halley Stewart Trust-funded project)

Photo: Workshop at The Open University's campus in October 2016.  The participants (people aged over 55 years) came in to discuss their experiences of using the activity monitoring trackers (Sir Halley Stewart Trust-funded project)

We have received funding from an ESRC Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) in a partnership between The Open University (OU) and University of Oxford for our project: Designing Wearable Activity Monitoring Technologies that work well for Older Users and Carers (Project reference: 1702-KEA-282). The project will run from April 2017 to January 2018.

Wearable activity monitoring technologies include, for example, trackers from Fitbit, Garmin and Samsung, and smart watches. Typically, these devices record steps walked, sleep patterns, calories expended, or heart rate and their functionality is increasing. Given the UK’s ageing profile and as part of the agendas of Active and Healthy Ageing and digital NHS, there is an increasing focus on maintaining health in later life and encouraging physical activity to preserve mobility and motor skills, and self-monitoring of health and medical conditions. 

The ESRC IAA project aims to produce a multi-way knowledge-exchange between key stakeholders for improving the design of activity monitoring technologies (and digital health wearables, in general) for older users, carers and medical professionals. The stakeholders will comprise of: academia; industry (manufacturers of digital health wearables); statutory and voluntary groups such as Bucks Vision, Dementia Friends; older people and carers through Age UK MK and Carers MK; and OU’s partnerships with medical networks.

Our focus will be to build on and exploit recently gathered user-based evidence (from our previous Sir Halley Stewart Trust-funded project) on the functionality, usability and accessibility of  wearable technologies, the accuracy and reliability concerns of stakeholders, and ethical considerations of data-usage. We gathered this evidence through user engagement on the role of wearable activity monitoring technologies in the health and well-being of people aged 55 years and over in the Sir Halley Stewart Trust-funded project - trialling devices with a group of older users and conducting surveys and workshops with multiple stakeholders: carers, people aged over 55 years, and medical and healthcare professionals.

Our practitioner partners on this ESRC IAA project are: Age UK Milton Keynes, Carers Milton Keynes and Samsung, UK.

The academic team consists of: Dr Duncan Banks, Dr Caroline Holland, Ms Catherine McNulty, Professor Shailey Minocha and Dr Ana-Despina Tudor of The Open University; and Dr Kate Hamblin and Dr George Leeson of The Oxford Institute of Population Ageing, University of Oxford. The project will be managed by Ms Louise Thomas of The Open University.

Digital health wearables for the person being cared for: a survey

Sleep patterns shown on the dashboard of the digital health wearable (photo courtesy: Dr. Duncan Banks)

We would like to know about your perceptions of using digital health wearables for monitoring the health and activity of the people you care for. It is not necessary for you to have used such devices for the people you are caring for to participate in this survey. Your inputs will help us to understand how similar health wearables could be effectively used if they became a part of healthcare: caring, monitoring and self-management of health.

Our current focus is on activity trackers (e.g. wrist-bands from Fitbit or Jawbone, or smart watches from Apple or Samsung), which track daily fitness levels such as heart rate, sleep patterns, or calories expended.

As a part of the Sir Halley Stewart Trust-funded Digital health wearables project (http://www.shaileyminocha.info/digital-health-wearables/) at The Open University, UK, we are running a survey: please visit https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/health-wearables-for-the-person-being-cared-for or http://bit.ly/2iN4YSd to participate in this survey.

The survey will take 6-8 minutes to complete it.

Since these devices are not yet designed to accurately analyse data from wheel-chair usage, if you could fill up this survey only if you are caring for somebody who is mobile and not wheel-chair bound.

The university’s Human Research Ethics Committee has approved the project’s research design. If you have any queries about the project or this survey, please contact Professor Shailey Minocha: shailey.minocha@open.ac.uk

Google expeditions and fieldwork: friends or foes?

The Association for Science Education (ASE) Annual Conference

Workshop on Saturday 7th January 2017

The Research Project:

Google Expeditions (https://www.google.co.uk/edu/expeditions/) is a Virtual Reality (VR) approach being promoted by Google in schools globally. Google Expeditions are guided tours (field trips) of places that students experience on a smartphone through a virtual reality viewer called Google cardboard.

The Open University (OU), UK are conducting a school-based research project (funded by Google and the OU; July 2016 - June 2017) on the potential use of VR via Google Expeditions in secondary school science and geography.

The project (http://www.shaileyminocha.info/google-expeditions/) is being co-led by Field Studies Council, and UK's Association for Science Education and Geographical Association are the two partnering organisations.

About the Workshop:

This workshop will provide an opportunity to try out Google Expeditions and to explore how they could be used to support teaching and learning, including fieldwork.

Are Google Expeditions a threat to traditional field trips or could they become a complementary tool for strengthening the quality of outdoor learning, for example by providing an immersive technology which adds context and substance to pre-field preparation, in-field activities and post-field revision and reflection?

Presenters:

Ana-Despina Tudor and Shailey Minocha (The Open University, UK)

Steve Tilling (Field Studies Council)

Marianne Cutler (ASE) and Richard Needham (ASE and Vicia Learning Solutions Ltd.)

Workshop location at the ASE Conference: 

Henley Business School, 101, University of Reading, UK

Related posts:

PhD Studentships - Innovation and Learning Pathway: ESRC Grand Union Doctoral Partnership

Walton Hall, The Open University, UK http://bit.ly/2hjMnNM under the Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license

There are full-time and part-time PhD studentships available at The Open University, UK as a part of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Grand Union Doctoral Partnership.

The details of studentships are available here

This webpage on University's website has links to descriptions for each of the six research pathways. If you are interested in the Innovation and Learning pathway and in the following themes in this pathway, please contact me:

  • MOOCs for continuing professional development of school teachers,
  • Role of MOOCs and Open Educational Resources (OERs) in lifelong learning and in facilitating up-skilling of older people,
  • Potential of virtual reality to support inquiry-based learning in Geography and Science in schools,
  • Social interaction in computer-mediated communication environments, and
  • Online collaborative learning: challenges and advantages. 

The deadline for applying for studentships is 20 January 2017.

 

PhD Studentships - Health and Wellbeing Pathway: ESRC Grand Union Doctoral Partnership

The Open University, UK, from: http://bit.ly/2hqHMVS under the Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license

The Open University, UK, from: http://bit.ly/2hqHMVS under the Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license

There are full-time and part-time PhD studentships available at The Open University, UK as a part of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Grand Union Doctoral Partnership.

The details of studentships are available here

This webpage on University's website has links to descriptions for each of the six research pathways. In the description of Health and Wellbeing pathway, there is a strand on Ageing and Later Life and also some cross-cutting themes.  If you are interested in the Ageing and Later Life strand and these cross-cutting themes listed below, please contact me:

  • digital health literacy,
  • role of wearable activity monitoring technologies and digital health wearables in self-management and self-monitoring of health and in remote healthcare,
  • design of digital healthcare technologies for older people,
  • role of social networking platforms in addressing the social isolation and loneliness in older people,
  • role of virtual reality in healthcare, and
  • digital (medical) education initiatives for healthcare staff through simulations in virtual reality and 3D virtual worlds.

Our related ongoing Sir Halley Stewart-funded project on digital health wearables for older people is described here

We have an ongoing PhD project related to digital health literacy: 'Digital health literacy for older people: Investigating the motivations, challenges and experiences.'

This web-page and the blog on this website have further details/resources on our projects/initiatives related to the themes listed above.  

The deadline for applying for studentships is 20 January 2017.

Google Expeditions and Lesson Plans

Picture courtesy: Dr. Ana-Despina Tudor

Picture courtesy: Dr. Ana-Despina Tudor

Google Expeditions

Google Expeditions are virtual field trips in the form of 360 photospheres that can be viewed through virtual reality headsets called Google Cardboard that are driven via the Google Expeditions App on the smartphones.

There are over 300 Google Expeditions listed in this spreadsheet: http://bit.ly/1GxJ9xf

Some of these expeditions have lessons plans in TES: https://www.tes.com/resources/search/?q=%23Googleexpeditions

About the project

In the Google- and UK's Open University-funded project, we are investigating the role of Google Expeditions in Geography and Science learning and teaching in schools. Details of our project are available in this blog post

UK's Open University (Shailey Minocha and Ana-Despina Tudor) is working with Google and leading UK education organisations including the Field Studies Council (Steve Tilling and David Morgan), Geographical Association (Rebecca Kitchen and Alan Kinder) and The Association for Science Education (Marianne Cutler and Richard Needham). 

Project webpage

The project webpage on this site is here.

Activity trackers and people aged over 55 years

Digital Health Wearables workshop on 14 October 2016, pictures courtesy Professor Shailey Minocha and Dr. Duncan Banks

Digital Health Wearables workshop on 14 October 2016, pictures courtesy Professor Shailey Minocha and Dr. Duncan Banks

We organised the fourth workshop of the Sir Halley Stewart Trust funded Digital Health Wearables project at The Open University on 14 October 2016.

As discussed in our blog-post dated 9 October 2016, we are recording the experiences of 21 participants who are using activity trackers as a part of this project. The activity trackers are from Fitbit (e.g. Fitbit Alta, Fitbit HR), Microsoft (Band 1 and 2), and Misfit Shine. The workshop-discussions since June 2016 have uncovered a number of challenges people over 55 years experience with using the activity-trackers - from opening the packaging, accessing the instructions/manuals online, and to discovering the features of the device. 

We are investigating how the behaviours of our participants is changing – whether there is an increase in their activity such as walking or gardening, lifestyle changes, attitudes towards food/diet, and so on. How do they do how much of physical activity (and number of steps) is optimal for them (age; medical conditions, if any; etc.)? Does an increase in physical activity help towards the loneliness that people experience in later life? In addition, we have been eliciting their perceptions about sharing of the data with family, friends, carers and medical professionals. 

As discussed in this news item of our project, the wider implications of this project are in determining how digital health wearables can be used for self-monitoring and self-management of health by older people, and for remote-monitoring of specific conditions such as Parkinson's. 

Virtual reality boosts students’ results

Use of Google Cardboard to experience Google Expeditions (photo courtesy: Dr Ana-Despina Tudor)

Use of Google Cardboard to experience Google Expeditions (photo courtesy: Dr Ana-Despina Tudor)

"Virtual and augmented reality can enable teaching and training in situations which would otherwise be too hazardous, costly or even impossible in the real world." Edwin Smith, in Raconteur Report on Virtual and Augmented Reality, http://rcnt.eu/9ci

Our project on Google Expeditions is mentioned in this article "Virtual reality boosts students’ results" has featured in the report – Virtual and Augmented Reality (the report is available for downloading from the article's web-page, on the left hand side).

ABOUT THE PROJECT

Our research project’s objective is examine the role of Virtual Reality (VR) in science and geography in schools. 

On this Google Expeditions project, UK's Open University (Shailey Minocha and Ana-Despina Tudor) is working with Google and leading UK education organisations including the Field Studies Council (Steve Tilling and David Morgan), Geographical Association (Rebecca Kitchen and Alan Kinder) and The Association for Science Education (Marianne Cutler and Richard Needham). The project is funded by Google and The Open University, UK.

NEWS ITEM RELATED TO THE PROJECT

A recent news item on our project is available at Open University's website at this link.

Use of data from fitness trackers in medical consultations

Are you a doctor or healthcare provider? Do you come across data from fitness trackers such as from Fitbit etc. in your consultations?

Activity data on the dashboard in the iPad App of the wearable (pictures courtesy: Dr Duncan Banks, The Open University, UK)

About the project

Our research project at UK’s Open University and in collaboration with Age UK Milton Keynes aims to investigate whether behaviour changes in people aged over 55 years through the use of wearable activity-tracking technologies. Example technologies include those from Fitbit, Jawbone, or smart watches from Apple or Samsung.

We have launched a survey that is aimed at medical professionals to explore whether they use the data from these devices for diagnosis and intervention. Most importantly, do medical professionals use data from these devices to determine the behaviour or lifestyle changes in people aged over 55 years?  


Call for participation in the survey

As a medical professional we would like to know about your perceptions of using digital health wearables in medical consultations, diagnosis and treatment. Our focus is on wearable fitness devices which track daily fitness levels (e.g. wrist-bands from Fitbit or Jawbone, or smart watches from Apple or Samsung). 

As a part of the Sir Halley Stewart Trust-funded Digital health wearables project at The Open University, UK and in collaboration with Age UK Milton Keynes, we are running a survey: please visit https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/role-in-medical-consultations or http://bit.ly/2cPr852 to participate in this survey. It will take 3-5 minutes to complete it.

The project's research design has been approved by University's Human Research Ethics Committee. If you have any queries about the project or this survey, please contact Professor Shailey Minocha, The Open University: shailey.minocha@open.ac.uk 

Virtual Reality in Science and Geography Education

Two Science teachers looking at Google Expeditions via the Google Cardboard viewers (picture courtesy: Dr. Duncan Banks)

Two Science teachers looking at Google Expeditions via the Google Cardboard viewers (picture courtesy: Dr. Duncan Banks)

Google Expeditions

A Google Expedition (GE) is a Virtual Reality approach comprising of 360 degree photospheres of a location (e.g. a museum, or a city like Rio de Janeiro, an active volcano) along with the description of location, points of interest and suggested questions for discussion. Using a Tablet and via the GEs App, a teacher can guide students. Students experience the GE through the smartphones embedded within the VR viewers called Google cardboard.

About the project and ASE article

Our research project’s objective is examine the role of Virtual Reality (VR) in science and geography in schools. Details of our Google and The Open University-funded research project on Google Expeditions have appeared in The Association for Science Education's in-house magazine Education for Science, September 2016.

The article is not open access but we have received a pdf version from the editor - which is available here.

On this Google Expeditions project, The Open University (Shailey Minocha and Ana-Despina Tudor) is working with Google and leading UK education organisations including the Field Studies Council (Steve Tilling), Geographical Association (Rebecca Kitchen and Alan Kinder) and The Association for Science Education (Marianne Cutler and Richard Needham).

press release

A press release of our project is on our university's website, Teaching in Virtual Reality, 27th September 2016.

Use of digital health wearables by people aged over 55 years: A survey

Picture courtesy: Dr Duncan Banks, The Open University, UK

As a part of our Sir Halley Stewart Trust funded Digital Health Wearables project and in collaboration with Age UK Milton Keynes, we (The Open University team) have launched a survey aimed at people aged 55 years and over to elicit their experiences of using activity monitoring devices such as FitBits or using the health and activity monitoring features on smart watches (e.g. from Apple, Samsung).

The survey enquires about the device they use the most (in case they have more than such a device): challenges in using the device; advantages towards well-being and quality of life; privacy and ethical aspects about data-sharing; usage of the data for self-monitoring/self-management, or for alerting medical professionals or their family. 

The survey is available at:  https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/health-wearables-over-55years-age-choices-effects or http://bit.ly/2bwfpEW (shortened version of the link). It will take 6-8 minutes to complete the survey.

The project's research design has been approved by University's Human Research Ethics Committee (reference HREC/2015/2191/Minocha/1).

If you have any queries about the survey, please contact Shailey Minocha of The Open University, UK: shailey.minocha@open.ac.uk

Many thanks.

Survey on the use of digital health wearables

Do you use digital health wearables or activity trackers such as wrist-bands from Fitbit or Jawbone, or smart watches from Apple or Samsung, or a smart ring or bracelet? 

As a part of the Sir Halley Stewart Trust-funded Digital health wearables project at The Open University, UK (http://www.shaileyminocha.info/digital-health-wearables/), we would like to know about your experiences of using such devices for monitoring your health and/or self-management of your health and the criteria that you used when you were considering the device(s) for yourself. 

Please visit https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/health-wearables-choices-effects to take part in an online survey related to this project. It will take 6-8 minutes to complete the survey. 

The project's research design has been approved by University's Human Research Ethics Committee (reference HREC/2015/2191/Minocha/1).

If you have any queries about the survey, please contact Shailey Minocha of The Open University, UK: shailey.minocha@open.ac.uk

Many thanks.

Research Associate position in Google-funded Virtual Reality research project

Picture courtesy: https://flic.kr/p/DmnKXh

Picture courtesy: https://flic.kr/p/DmnKXh

Research Associate opening in our Google-funded virtual field trips research project in collaboration with UK's Field Studies Council. The position involves conducting research on a Google-funded Virtual Reality Research project. The focus of this project is to investigate the pedagogical and usability effectiveness of virtual reality (VR)-based virtual field trips - Google Expeditions (GEs) - in fieldwork in subjects such as biology and geography that have a long tradition of physical fieldwork. 

The details of the position are here: http://www.jobs.ac.uk/job/ANJ829/research-associate-in-human-computer-interaction-and-education-research/

or on The Open University's website: http://www3.open.ac.uk/employment/job-details.asp?id=9177

The last date for receiving the applications is noon of 5 May 2016.

Fully-funded PhD Studentships

Fully-funded PhD studentships are available in the Department of Computing and Communications, The Open University (OU) UK

The details are available here:  http://www.jobs.ac.uk/job/ANH409/two-studentships-in-computing-and-communications/

These are the projects that I have proposed along with colleagues in my department and in OU's Knowledge Media Institute:

Developing geographical understanding through 3D immersive environments

How can technology enhance fieldwork learning

MOOCs for professional development of school teachers

Education and training for globally distributed virtual teams: preparing the workforce for the future

Loneliness research presentation

Shailey will be presenting at an event organised by the Campaign to End Loneliness on 14th April 2016. The outline of the presentation is as follows:

In association with Age UK Milton Keynes, we have conducted research to investigate the conditions that lead to social isolation and loneliness among older people (55 years and above) in Milton Keynes, and to recommend possible strategies and solutions to prevent and mitigate isolation. The project was funded by the Milton Keynes Council and commissioned by the Senior Joint Commissioner, Adult Community Services. The research has involved a review of academic and policy literature on social isolation and loneliness, and an information gathering exercise that included expert workshops, individual and group interviews, and site visits. This talk will be based on the project's report and will discuss several case studies of older people and interventions for social isolation and loneliness within Milton Keynes. We hope that the recommendations and the resources from our report and in this talk would be useful for other communities, towns and cities, who may also be facing the challenges of supporting an ageing population.

Project members: Jane Palmer, Age UK Milton Keynes and Shailey Minocha, Duncan Banks, Caroline Holland and Catherine McNulty of The Open University.

Associated publications: Please see the list in Open University's Research Repository.

Award from Sir Halley Stewart Trust

Our project 'Investigating the role of wearable activity-tracking technologies in the well-being and quality of life of people aged 55 and over' has received funding from Sir Halley Stewart Trust

Picture courtesy: https://flic.kr/p/mw795j

Picture courtesy: https://flic.kr/p/mw795j

The project will investigate the challenges that the older people may experience: being adverse to these technologies as they may highlight their lifestyle; not having the digital skills to make an optimal use of these devices; or not being comfortable about sharing the data with others. 

We will investigate the ethical issues: whether the data that is collected is ethically used by the family to remotely monitor their loved ones and to pick up any health care concerns; and how this data might be used by medical professionals to facilitate timely clinical interventions. 

We will evaluate how usable these devices are to promote behaviour change, or influence the likelihood of long-term adoption: challenges associated with making sense of the data that is provided by these devices; does the data encourage people to be more active, exercise more, eat more healthily, or to quit smoking or drinking? 

Project team: Jane Palmer, Age UK Milton Keynes, Shailey Minocha, Duncan Banks, Caroline Holland, Catherine McNulty and Alice Peasgood from The Open University. 

Google Virtual Reality Research Award

Our project 'Pedagogical and usability evaluations of Google Expeditions' has received the Google Virtual Research Award. This project will be led by Shailey in collaboration with Dr Steve Tilling of UK's Field Studies Council and in association with UK's Geographical Association (GA) (Alan Kinder , Chief Executive, GA) and The Association for Science Education (ASE) (Marianne Cutler , Director for Curriculum Innovation, ASE). 

Google Expeditions (GEs)  are guided tours (field trips) of places that students experience on a smartphone through a virtual reality viewer called Google cardboard. GEs are comprised of virtual reality panoramas and are led by a guide or teacher. Using a Tablet, teachers can guide up to 50 students wearing the virtual reality (VR) viewers and point out highlights while referring to editable notes.

Google is teaming up with hundreds of schools to teleport students to far-flung places often seen in their textbooks. The program called Expeditions uses virtual reality. This is part of a widening initiative not just in the U.S., but also in Australia, Brazil, New Zealand and the U.K.

The focus of our project is to investigate the pedagogical effectiveness of GEs, in biology and geography fieldwork – subjects that have a long tradition of physical fieldwork.