The BeatHealth Project: Application to a Ubiquitous Computing and Music Framework

The BeatHealth Project: Application to a Ubiquitous Computing and Music Framework

Joseph Timoney, Sean O'Leary, Dawid Czesak, Victor Lazzarini, Eoghan E. Conway, Tomas E. Ward, Rudi C. Villing
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/JCIT.2015100103
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This work will elaborate on the new EU Beathealth project: an initiative to create an intelligent technical architecture capable of delivering embodied, flexible, and efficient rhythmical stimulation adapted to individuals' motor performance and skills for the purpose of enhancing/recovering movement activity. It will then explain how it can exemplify the principles of Ubiquitous Music and how knowledge from this field can suggest creativity-driven social enhancements. Case Studies will be presented to illustrate potential applications and additionally a short discussion on suitable theoretical guidelines will be made.
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In recent times scientists have begun to seriously investigate how rhythm and music can be harnessed as a drug-free way of stimulating health (Pollack, 2014). Music affects our autonomic nervous system activity, stimulating sensations of wellbeing at a subconscious level (Ellis & Thayer, 2010). This has naturally led behavioural scientists to posit that this could be a source of inspiration for a whole new set of therapeutic tools. Innovations in mobile technology in the last 10 years offer a very promising means by which such therapies can be delivered whenever the user or patient is free to practice them, and wherever they happen to be.

The collaborative research project ‘BeatHealth’ has been conceived to be at the forefront of these technological developments (BeatHealth Consortium, 2014). The objective of the project is to create a new method for improving health and wellness based on rhythmic stimulation. The system under development is an age-friendly, portable system that has the capability to invigorate the user through musical playlists and then simultaneously record their physiological activity (i.e., during walking or running) via advanced sensors. Currently, the music playlists are built using commercial audio tracks; these are employed so that users can increase their motivation by using music selections that they enjoy. The sensors have been custom-built to capture the individual’s motor performance and physiological response. Additionally, as the kinematic data and stimulation parameters are collected on the fly they are to be recorded via a dedicated network-based e-Health application for storage on a cloud service. This will facilitate the visualization of information on movement performance for the individuals themselves and for sharing among family members, doctors and coaches. Such access to this information will empower the user to have greater awareness of her/his motor condition, whether healthy or deficient, and encourage them to adopt a more active lifestyle to either enhance their performance or compensate for a motor disorder they might have.

An essential component to this application is the delivery of the music used to stimulate the kinematic activity. It is not simply a playback mechanism; instead it takes a significant role in the process. The belief is that by encouraging an entrainment, or synchronization, between the music and the movement then the maximum benefits should be obtained for the user. This can be realized at both a coarse and fine degree; from simply choosing music whose tempo is close to the rhythm of movement up to using special audio processing techniques to dynamically adapt the beat pattern of the music to align itself exactly with specific landmarks in the user’s movement.

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