Here we are, it’s almost the end of the year and three quarters of 2015 into the PAL project. A good time to look back on what we have achieved and forward to what the future holds.
In these past months the main focus of our work was to deeply understand the needs, the desires and the expectations of all the future PAL end users towards an innovative technology, that could become part of their everyday life, like the one we’re developing in the project. This brought us to work side by side with formal and informal caregivers and of course children with diabetes themselves and their families. Their enthusiasm in being involved in the research work and in supporting our team in PAL-related initiatives, shows us we are onto something good.
For the Dutch camp, for instance, the volunteers liked the camp so much that we have already filled the volunteer positions for the 2016 edition. For the Italian one the yearly summer appointment is confirmed with the research team and the Nao robot, which children expect to meet again.
The formal caregivers are enthusiastic about the personalized approach we take. In this personal approach formal caregivers and children decide on personal objectives together. The objectives are then tackled using a gaming approach that challenges the child to reach the objectives. Another contribution the PAL system might have on self-management is that the robot is seen as a friend by the children. We experienced this relation forming already in the ALIZ-e project, where children made gifts for the robot. This relation motivates the children to improve their self-management and it also provides something fun for the children related to their disease.
For what concerns the technical improvements of the project, the first week in December was a good step towards the design of a completely autonomous system that aims at reaching measurable effects on diabetes self-management of children (like regular interactions e.g. filling in the diary, and education with a quiz). All developers sat for a week in Delft, integrating a first working prototype. Meanwhile another group of researchers sat down to describe all the requirements we gathered this first year in a precise and concise manner, so that we can use these to guide the design of the PAL solutions and their evaluation.
These efforts will result in a basic setup that will be evaluated during an experiment in the spring/summer of 2016, in which all three partner hospitals are involved.
Last but not least, we have shown the PAL project to many different people, because we were present at many events, from exhibitions for small enterprises to information market for patients at World Diabetes Day, diabetes-related congresses, dedicated events for families, and show casing the project to managers from care and cure organizations.
In the meanwhile Merry Christmas and happy New Year!