Health, autonomy, living, well-being

Heads Mathieu RAYNAL et David SIMONCINI

It’s a reality, life spans are getting longer.

The needs related to health and quality of life are evolving in line with this reality, leading to the emergence of new scientific and technological approaches concerning the prevention, diagnosis and therapy of diseases, but also the assistance provided to people with special needs, whose sensory, motor or cognitive capacities may be affected.

Numerous research fields including Informatics but also Life Sciences and Humanities and Social Sciences are involved. Cooperation between these fields of research must be encouraged in order to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of new technologies related to health and autonomy, while respecting people and their wishes.

Informatics, as a science but also as a technology, has a natural place in this new landscape of health and quality of life. The design of IT systems that are relevant because they respond to identified needs, but also effective and efficient, relies on a set of indispensable skills. First of all, it is necessary to develop tools for acquiring, managing and using information, whether for personal or collective, professional or general public purposes, etc. This opens the way to new information, assessment and simulation systems for the benefit of patients, people with special needs, and health professionals.

Information can be acquired in different ways: from human individuals, by imaging the living; from virtual individuals, by modelling and simulating the living; but also from the global knowledge of health professionals, by using knowledge engineering. The information acquired in this way is extremely complex from several points of view: the volume of data to be manipulated can be considerable; the relationships between the various pieces of information themselves generate information; the information is often extremely sensitive and requires appropriate security of access; it must be possible to access the information efficiently, from any place and at any time. Secondly, the exploitation of this information can be approached from several directions: for fundamental knowledge in biology and health, for prevention and improvement of the quality of life; and to assist the many professionals working in the field of health and autonomy.

Finally, informatics opens the way to a set of new possibilities concerning assistive technologies for the assistance of individuals suffering from sensory, motor or cognitive deficiencies, but also in order to develop communicating and intelligent environments (the flat, the city, …) that improve the quality of life of these people. These technologies are based on the significant progress made in the field of sensors and data analysis, but also in the field of interaction (tangible, multimodal, multi-support, etc.).

IRIT has given priority to research in the field of Health, Autonomy and Quality of Life and has five strong competences in life imaging, biomedical data management, modelling and simulation of life, e-Health, and assistive technologies related to disability.