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A duration-based online reminder system

Priyanka Chaurasia (School of Computing and Information Engineering, University of Ulster, Coleraine, UK)
Sally McClean (School of Computing and Information Engineering, University of Ulster, Coleraine, UK)
Chris D. Nugent (School of Computing and Mathematics, University of Ulster, Jordanstown, UK)
Bryan Scotney (School of Computing and Information Engineering, University of Ulster, Coleraine, UK)

International Journal of Pervasive Computing and Communications

ISSN: 1742-7371

Article publication date: 28 October 2014




The purpose of this paper is to discuss an online sensor-based support system which the authors believe can be useful in such scenarios. Persons with a cognitive impairment, such as those with Alzheimer’s disease, suffer from deficiencies in cognitive skills which reduce their independence; such patients can benefit from the provision of further assistance such as reminders for carrying out instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs).


The system proposed processes data from a network of sensors that have the capability of sensing user interactions and on-going IADLs in the living environment itself. A probabilistic learning model is built that computes joint probability distributions over different activities representing users’ behavioural patterns in performing activities. This probability model can underpin an intervention framework that prompts the user with the next step in the IADL when inactivity is being observed. This prompt for the next step is inferred from the conditional probability taken into consideration the IADL steps that have already been completed, in addition to contextual information relating to the time of day and the amount of time already spent on the activity. The originality of the work lies in combining partially observed sensor sequences and duration data associated with the IADLs. The prediction of the next step is then adjusted as further steps are completed and more time is spent towards the completion of the activity, thus updating the confidence that the prediction is correct. A reminder is only issued when there has been sufficient inactivity on the part of the patient and the confidence is high that the prediction is correct.


The results of this study verify that by including duration information the prediction accuracy of the model is increased and the confidence level for the next step in the IADL is also increased. As such, there is approximately a 10 per cent rise in the prediction performance in the case of single sensor activation in comparison to an alternative approach which did not consider activity durations.

Practical implications

Duration information to a certain extent has been widely ignored by activity recognition researchers and has received a very limited application within smart environments.


This study concludes that incorporating progressive duration information into partially observed sensor sequences of IADLs has the potential to increase performance of a reminder system for patients with a cognitive impairment, such as Alzheimer’s disease.



Chaurasia, P., McClean, S., D. Nugent, C. and Scotney, B. (2014), "A duration-based online reminder system", International Journal of Pervasive Computing and Communications, Vol. 10 No. 4, pp. 442-468.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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