Project:EMPATHIC -Empathic, Expressive, Advanced Virtual Coach to Improve Independent Healthy-Life-Years of the Elderly

Duration: 36 months (from 01/11/2017 to 31/10/2020)

Coordinator:University of the Basque Country, Spain


OSATEK S.A (Spain)

University of Oslo (Norway)

TUNSTALL Healthcare Ltd (United Kingdom)

Technion – Israel Institute of Technology (Israel)

Intelligent Voice Ltd. (United Kingdom)

Acapela Group S.A (Belgium)

Institute Mines Telecom (France)

Universitàdella Campania Luigi (Italy)

Association E-Seniors (France)

Objectives: The EMPATHIC Research & Innovation project will research, innovate and validate new paradigms, laying the foundation for future generations of Personalised Virtual Coaches to help elderly people to live independently.

- The wellness coaching advice will promote healthy habits and behaviour, by challenging each user to transform their personal goals and needs into actions.

- The EMPATHIC Virtual Coach (EMPATHIC-VC) will engage the healthy-senior user to take care of potential chronic diseases, maintain a healthy diet, have adequate physical activity as well as encourage social engagement, thus contributing to the older adults’ ability to maintain a satisfying and independent lifestyle.

-  The EMPATHIC-VC will motivate the user through a friendly virtual coach to reach pre-set benefits, whose achievement will be measured through project-defined metrics. The ambition of the project is to create a personal, friendly and familiar environment for the users, avoiding the threatening effects of unfamiliar new gadgets or an excessive focus on medical supervision.

- The project will look beyond the basic medical and physical needs of a person, to the link between body and emotional well-being. The EMPATHIC-VC will be capable of perceiving the emotional and social state of a person, in the learned context of the senior users’ expectations and requirements, and their personal history, and will respond adaptively to his/her needs.

To achieve these goals, this project will develop innovative multimodal face and speech analytics, adaptive spoken dialogue systems, Intelligent computational models and natural human-computer interfaces, resulting in an emotionally-expressive virtual coach, designed to help aging users and their carers. Building upon neuroscience research, the project will use unobtrusive remote technologies to extract physiological markers of emotional states in real-time. The EMPATHIC-VC will monitor facial cues and speech style that underpin the user’s basic neural function, and will formulate online adaptive responses, facilitating interaction through mimicking, in turn promoting empathy and support with the user.