LIOPA secures Innovate UK Funding, along with partners Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Queen’s University Belfast. They will deploy a communications aid for tracheostomy patients, aimed at improving patient engagement and autonomy.
Liopa, a spin out of the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) has announced that it is to deliver a prototype patient/carer communications aid. Tracheostomy patients will use it in critical care environments.
Working along with Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Queen’s University Belfast, Liopa will develop SRAVI (Speech Recognition App for the Voice Impaired). Compared to the limited alternatives available, SRAVI will provide an easy-to-use, accurate and cost effective method for communication between these patients, their family members and healthcare staff. SRAVI will integrate with LipRead, Liopa’s artificial intelligence engine for Visual Speech Recognition.
The initial project will focus on a select group of tracheostomy patients (approximately 10,000 tracheostomies are performed annually in the UK). They will struggle to vocalise but be able to move their lips normally. Whilst the initial prototype will support a limited vocabulary in English, the application can be further developed to support larger vocabularies across multiple languages.
Clinical Professor Danny McAuley at QUB’s Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine and Consultant at the Belfast Trust commented, “The inability to communicate during an ICU stay is a major source of morbidity for patients, family and staff. A patient’s non-verbal attempts to communicate are often difficult to understand. This can be frustrating for patients and carers. This novel approach may allow better communication between the patient, staff and family from an early stage.”
“This is an innovative application of our proven AI-based Visual Speech Recognition (VSR) system LipRead. LipRead analyses and translates lip movements into recognisable words. The technology allows the translation of lip movement to text using a mobile app on a mobile device. It requires very little training and is inexpensive,” said Liam McQuillan, Co-founder and CEO, Liopa. He continued, “SRAVI can be deployed on commodity smartphones and tablets, that can be used by multiple patients. Alternative technologies, such as ‘eye-gaze’ systems, require bespoke hardware and are generally much more expensive.”
Shondipon Laha is a Consultant in Critical Care and Anaesthesia at Lancashire Teaching Hospital. He explained further, “This project will address a government priority to implement new digital solutions in the NHS. SRAVI will deliver improved patient-carer communications for patients with tracheostomies. It therefore reduces rehabilitation times in expensive ICU settings.”
The project will run for 9 months. It will include an evaluation phase, carried out in hospital critical care environments in Lancashire and Belfast. It has been funded by UK Research and Innovation. This new organisation brings together the UK Research Councils, Innovate UK and Research England. It creates the best environment for research and innovation to flourish, to ensure the UK maintains its world-leading position in research and innovation.
Find out more about what lipreading is from this short video….