Over 4,000 people visit SPHERE at Festival of Nature


Over 4,000 people came to find out about a new health project showcased at the Bristol University tent for the Festival of Nature at the weekend.

Sensor Platform for Healthcare in a Residential Environment (SPHERE) is a 15 m research project over five years and the public who visited the harbourside for the three day event had a chance to ask questions and give their input.

As one of the most obese nations in Europe, with a rapidly ageing population at risk from isolation, depression and falls in the home – the project is researching to see if technology could be the answer.

There are 60 partners involved working with Bristol University including Knowle West Media Centre and Bristol City Council.

At the Festival of Nature, SPHERE  shared two activities with the public. Visitors had the chance to try out sensors in a purpose built lego house to remind them to exercise,  eat healthily and remember their keys when they left the house.
They also tried a balancing exercise which was filmed showing their point skeleton and evaluated how they did. This could be useful to detect if someone is vulnerable to falls for example.

SPHERE Public Engagement Officer Ben Meller said: “Some 200 people tried out the balance activity and many more the lego house…Feedback was very positive from the event, many people gave us their thoughts  and a number of people said they were interested in contacting us to join studies.”

Engagement and Media Projects Co-ordinator Sue Mackinnon who helped on the stall on the Sunday said: “A lot of the conversations I had showed that people were fascinated by the use of sensors in the homes. It can be used for a range of health problems from diabetes to depression as well as to help elderly people stay in their homes.

“Many of the people I spoke to were worried about an older relative and thought it was a great idea, as long as the human contact was still there. People also said this was the future of healthcare and would be extremely useful to be able to monitor the sick and elderly.”

The Festival of Nature is aimed at wildlife and science lovers and was part of Bristol Big Green Week which is running a range of events across the city.

For more information about SPHERE visit http://www.irc-sphere.ac.uk/
For information about Big Green Week visit http://biggreenweek.com/