Exploring the Potential of Augmented Reality to Support People Living with Dementia to Complete Tasks at Home

  • Thomas Williams

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Engineering (EngD)


Dementia affects more than 850,000 people in the UK, and this figure continues to rise year on year. People living with dementia often have difficulties completing activities of daily living (ADLs), leading to a reliance on family or professional carers. However, assistive technology, such as task prompting tools, can support people living with dementia to maintain their independence and live at home for longer.

Augmented Reality (AR) is an increasingly prevalent technology and has been used as a task prompting tool in industrial settings to support complex maintenance and assembly tasks. The use of AR for task assistance has also been identified as a promising area for development in Domestic AR. Despite the use of AR as a task prompting tool in industrial settings and the potential of AR in domestic settings, relatively little is known about the efficacy of augmentations for ADLs.

The work in this thesis aims to provide an initial exploration into the use of AR as a task prompting tool to support people living with dementia to complete ADLs at home. Multiple stakeholders, including health professionals, a general adult population, older adults without cognitive impairment, and people living with dementia and their family carers, have been included to develop a holistic understanding of the use of AR in a domestic setting, based on four studies carried out for this project.

The first study consisted of in-person interviews with professionals with experience of working with people living with dementia. The second study was a lab experiment with older adults to compare four AR visual prompting techniques to prompt five basic actions found in many ADLs. The third study involved the co-design of AR prompts in a kitchen context, and their evaluation with a general adult population using an online survey. The final study consisted of online interviews with people living with dementia and their family carers to explore the results of the previous three studies and how AR could be beneficial from the point of view of people with lived experience of dementia.

The overall findings show that AR as a tool to support task prompting of domestic tasks was received positively by the participants of these studies. A combination of text, audio, and a ghosthand image demonstrating the action to carry out could be most beneficial for people with dementia, but AR prompts should be easily customisable to cater for different abilities, preferences, and personalities. Furthermore, early introduction of AR will be key for uptake when the technology has been developed further.
The potential of domestic AR to improve the lives of people affected by dementia and those that support them with ADLs is considered as motivation for future work in this promising research area.
Date of Award25 May 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorElies Dekoninck (Supervisor), Simon Jones (Supervisor), Christof Lutteroth (Supervisor) & Hazel Boyd (Supervisor)


  • dementia
  • augmented reality
  • AR

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