From June 30th 2014 the FAST database is no longer being updated and no bulletins are being circulated due to a decision by the Department of Health to cut the contract to FAST. Find out how to support this information resource to continue by following this link.

Past Research Bulletins

« back to listing page

Bulletin No. 16, June 2010


Welcome to AT R&D News, a free new monthly newsletter from FAST with the latest on Research and Development in the AT field. Our aim is to help researchers stay up to date with national developments, local initiatives and research projects relevant to the AT community. There are also regular updates on sources of funding, AT jobs, conferences and opportunities to share knowledge about the AT sector.

To subscribe (or unsubscribe) to the newsletter, or to suggest items for inclusion, email:


  1. Funding update
  2. New projects
  3. RAATE conference
  4. AT in the news
  5. Call for Papers
  6. Jobs
  7. Events and resources

1. Funding update

  • A second new healthcare Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) call will be announced at the ICE-T Meet the Buyers 2010 event which will host the launch of £1.3 million of public funding. NHS South Central, the strategic health authority for Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Hampshire, and the Isle of Wight, will launch their new £800,000 call for proposals under the SBRI. Fully-funded development contracts will be awarded to technology-based projects which will reduce hospital admissions.

    This call is in addition to the previously announced £500,000 SBRI call from the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and NHS South East Coast for proposals for technology-based projects supporting those suffering from dementia and their carers, which will also be launched at ICE-T Meet the Buyers 2010 on 6th July 2010. More information via this link.
  • The EU's Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) Joint Programme has announced a third call for proposals. There is approximately 23 million euros of funding available under the theme of ICT-based Solutions for Advancement of Older Persons’ Independence and Participation in the 'Self-Serve Society'. Deadline for submissions is 30th July 2010 and there is more information via this link.
  • The Technology Strategy Board has £10 million available to address needs identified in the areas of Economic and Business Models and Social and Behavioural Studies. The Economic and Business Modelling theme will aim to provide improved evidence to underpin industry and social enterprise, to encourage investment in and implementation of assisted living services and technology. The Social and Behavioural Studies theme will aim to better understand the interactions between Assisted Living technologies and services and individuals, families and communities. 

    Nearer market collaborative research projects will be funded at 50%. Basic research projects, with direct industry participation will be funded at 75%. Non-IPR generating projects involving academics, service providers and voluntary sector partners will be funded at 100%. Funding is anticipated to be between £250,000 and £2 million in each project. The deadline for expression of interest is 29th July 2010, and the deadline for full applications is 14th October 2010. For more information, go here.

Back to top

2. New projects

  • Researchers at the National Hospital for Neurology and University College London are working on a project for web-based rehabilitation of hemianopic alexia, funded by the Stroke Association Hemianopic alexia (HA) is a condition, usually caused by a stroke, that damages one half of a patient's vision. Readers of text written in English make use of visual information to the right-hand-side of the word that they are looking at to help plan their reading eye-movements across a line of text. Patients with HA are robbed of this information and compensate by making very inefficient eye-movements, causing them to read very slowly. Some patients abandon reading, or lose their jobs because they cannot read quickly enough.

    The research team has developed a website which has gone live as a diagnostic, therapy and research tool and is one of the first medical therapies to be delivered in this way anywhere in the world. The website provides online tests of reading speed and visual fields as well as the therapy programme itself (which consists of practicing reading scrolling text). Participants' reading speeds are tested after each five hour block of therapy and fed back to them, so that they can see if it is making a difference. For more information, follow this link
  • A team from the design, manufacture and engineering management department at the University of Strathclyde is working with commercial partners on a project to provide customisation of cosmetic covers for artificial limbs. Current cosmetic covers (or 'cosmeses') do not enhance the performance of the artificial limb, attract dirt, are not water proof, impede the normal functioning of joint(s) and are unattractive to look at. By using advanced manufacturing techniques combined with cutting-edge technology in scanning and measurement of materials properties, researchers aim to provide end-users with a method of influencing shape, appearance, function and behaviour of foam cosmoses for orthopaedic applications. Funding is from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and there is more information here
  • One of the barriers which prevent people with dementia using technology is their diminishing working memory, which progressively reduces their ability to initiate familiar tasks and learn new tasks. Technology for people with dementia must therefore be completely intuitive to use so that it requires no learning or recollection of previous use. Researchers at Bath Institute of Medical Engineering are developing a video link system for enabling people with dementia to interact with relatives during virtual 'visits', with funding from EPSRC. The two key aspects of inTouch: A video link system to improve social inclusion for people with dementia are that it will provide a wide view of the family member's home, giving the feel of a 'visit' rather than just a video phone call, and that the system will not require the person with dementia to have any prior knowledge of computers or other technology. To find out more, go here.  

Back to top

3. RAATE conference

  • The Call for Papers for RAatE 2010 closes on 14th July 2010.  RAatE is the only UK conference focused on the latest innovations and developments in assistive technology and will be of interest to everyone who uses, works with, develops or conducts research on assistive technologies. 

    RAatE 2010 will be held on Monday 29th November 2010 at the Warwick University conference centre in Coventry.The keynote speak will be Dr Martin Ferguson-Pell, who has recently been appointed Dean of the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Alberta, which is the only free standing faculty of rehabilitation medicine in Canada.

    RAatE presentations traditionally cover a broad sweep of topics, and this year's themes include AT for older people; telecare and telehealth; innovative access and wheelchair control; AT in education; and case studies of successful interventions.

    The Call for Papers is now open and the deadline for submission of papers, posters or workshop ideas is 14th July 2010. Proceedings will be published in an edition of the Journal of Assistive Technologies. For more information, follow this link

Back to top

4. AT in the news

  • The Comprehensive Biomedical Research Centre at Guy's and St Thomas' and King's College London has launched a new guide to help researchers involve users in the research process. The guide explains how users can help at each stage of the research process, what issues to consider, and how researchers can involve users in:
    • the development of the grant application
    •  the design and management of the research
    • the undertaking of the research
    • the analysis of the research data
    • the dissemination of research findings

The guide also includes case study examples from around the country where user involvement is making a real difference during the research process. More details are here. For a copy of "Involving users in the research process: A 'how to' guide for researchers", email

  • Apple's latest computer, the touchscreen iPad, has been hailed as potentially one of the most accessible mobile devices on the market, according to one Apple technology blogger. The iPad's VoiceOver capability means that everything shown on the screen can be read aloud, while additional features are useful for those with speech or cognitive impairments. The iPad review is available via this link.
  • The annual Jodi Award for best use of digital technology to widen access to information, collections, learning and creativity for disabled people is looking for entrants from museums, libraries, art galleries, archives, heritage sites and disability organisations. The deadline for nominating a website is 9th August 2010 and the award will be presented on 20th September in Brussels as part of the European Congress on E-Inclusion (ECEI10), ‘Delivering a Digital Europe in Public Libraries’. Find out more here.  
  • An article in the Daily Telegraph on 7th June drew attention to the impact of new government plans to hold hospitals responsible for patients' health and well-being for up to a month after discharge. There will be financial penalties for hospitals forced to re-admit patients, and a new focus on making sure that treatment for people at home is adequate, which could mean monitoring people's long term conditions via telecare. The article is here.
  • The AT Alliance linking the four national charities (Disabled Living Foundation, Ricability, Assist UK and FAST) that provide independent information about the products that make independent living possible has been working on a project to provide a web-based information resource covering the equipment available for older and disabled people. The work is funded by the Department of Health. The prototype of the website is now live and the AT Alliance is seeking feedback on it. To view the new site follow this link. You can give your feedback by completing the online survey linked to from the site.
  • The 2010 da Vinci Awards are seeking nominations from around the world to recognise and celebrate the most innovative adaptive and assistive technologies that enable equal access and opportunity for all people, regardless of ability. Nominations are being accepted online in five categories:
    • Communication/Educational Aids
    • Environmental Adaptation/Daily Living or Work Aids
    • Prosthetics/Orthotics/Controls
    • Transportation and Mobility
    • Recreation and Leisure 

Entrants must submit a video, no longer than three minutes in length, describing or demonstrating their nomination. Deadline for entries is July 31st 2010, and there is more information here.

  • A new Centre for Assistive Technology has opened in Qatar to provide disabled people with support and access to information and communications technologies. The centre's deputy director is David Banes, formerly of AbilityNet. To find out more, follow this link.  
  • Digital TV software specialist, Ocean Blue Software, has released a white paper that explores the challenges facing health and social care providers, and looks at how assistive TV technology can benefit care communities, whilst reducing costs. Read more via this link.
  • Charity Communication Matters is looking to recruit trustees, who will have the opportunity to influence the development of the organisation. This year there are four  vacancies on the board of trustees, as several trustees are standing down as their term of office will be completed this year (a number will be standing for re-election). Elections will take place on Sunday 26 September 2010 during the Communication Matters CM2010 National Symposium (details here).

    Anyone who is a current Individual member of Communication Matters (or is applying for membership) can become a trustee. The deadline is 13th August 2010 and there is more information via this link.  
  • The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has opened a public consultation on the proposed process and methods guides for its new Evaluation Pathway Programme for Medical Technologies. The programme covers two principal activities: selection of medical technologies for evaluation by NICE programmes and development of medical technologies guidance. The consultation closes on 10th September 2010, and the programme’s final process and methods guides are expected to be published early in 2011. To register a comment, go here. For any questions about the consultation contact

Back to top

5. Call for Papers

  • The 5th IEEE European Conference on Smart Sensing and Context will be held in Passau, Germany, 14th -16th November 2010 and provides a platform to discuss techniques, algorithms, architectures, protocols, and user aspects underlying context-aware smart surroundings and cooperating intelligent objects. The proceedings will be published in the Springer Lecture Notes in Computer Science (LNCS) Series. Call for Papers closes 4th July 2010, and the deadline for posters/demos is 20th August 2010. More details here.
  • Promoting and Supporting Healthy Living By Design is a one day workshop at the British Computer Society Human Computer Interaction Conference in Dundee on 6th September 2010. The focus is on using technology to help people adopt healthier lifestyles and to support them if they are living with long term conditions. The Call for Papers, including demos and posters, closes on 4th July 2010. More details here.  

Back to top

6. Jobs

  • Oxford Brookes University has announced a new Chair in Rehabilitation. The post-holder will be responsible for undertaking research leading to national and international quality publications, securing external grants for research projects and studentships, providing leadership for departmental researchers, and supervising and assessing students in rehabilitation and related areas. Candidates should have a PhD or equivalent in a relevant field, a track record of internationally recognised research in a relevant field, experience of research leadership and experience of management, plus  some experience of teaching and/or supervising students in higher education. The deadline for applications is 17th September 2010, and there is more information here.
  • The newly launched  Institute of Digital Healthcare (IDH) at the University of Warwick is looking for an Assistant Professor in Biomedical Engineering to develop a portfolio of collaborative research activities. The post-holder will establish strong links with other academics in the International Digital Laboratory (IDL) and the wider university community, as well as external organisations such as NHS Trusts and other IDH partners, and will contribute to the development of teaching content for postgraduate programmes within the IDH remit, delivering specific modules in the UK and possibly overseas and supervising research students to doctoral level. Candidates will possess a PhD or equivalent and have an academic track record in the field of biomedical engineering together with a vision for the development of innovative research. Deadline for applications is 14th July 2010 and there are more details via this link.
  • The University of Manchester is offering a four-year Masters-PhD project evaluating a non-invasive technology called transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) as part of a programme to alleviate anomia in aphasia (that is, the inability to correctly retrieve the name of an object). During the MRes component of the training, the influence of tDCS upon language learning in normal participants will be explored. Having developed appropriate stimulation parameters in normal individuals, the bulk of the project will determine the impact of tDCS upon the effectiveness of behavioural therapy amongst six fluent (Transcortical Sensory/Anomic) and six non-fluent (Broca's/Transcortical Motor) stroke aphasic patients. This project would ideally suit a candidate with a strong interest in the neural bases of normal language processing and the nature of language dysfunction in stroke aphasia. The deadline for applications is 25th July 2010 and there is more information here

Back to top

7. Events and resources

  • Ed Vaizey, the new minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries with responsibility for digital access and inclusion, is confirmed as the keynote speaker for e-Access ’10: access to technology by people with disabilities. The conference will look at the strong business drivers for making web sites, IT systems and all digital technologies as accessible as possible to all. A discount on the delegate fee is available via FAST and there are more details here
  • The Knowledge Transfer through Partnership Delivering Medical Innovation conference is being organised jointly by the University of Bath and the HealthTech and Medicines KTN. The event takes place in Bath on 6th September 2010 and will showcase the benefits and successes of the collaborative work between companies and academic institutions in the health and medicines sectors. Find out more via this link.
  • Coming of Age: Dementia in the 21st Century is is aimed at all those who work with and support people with dementia and will be held in London 19th-21st October 2010.  More information here.

Back to top