A large number of technical challenges need to be solved for a successful application of intelligent IT-based assistance systems. At the same time, economic aspects and questions regarding user acceptance have to be considered, such as the user‘s needs and the integration of the systems into medical and care structures.
Based on the three following scenarios, assisting technologies for the design of environments for the ageing are developed:
Personal activity and household assistant: The aim is to build an electronic assistance system for planning daily activity and
household chores. This component is meant to be implemented for dependents of “younger age” in order for potential users to become aquainted with assistive health technologies.
Sensor based activity determination: With the help of already available or unobtrusively installed sensors, the activities of the resident
within the apartment are monitored and help to warn about emergency situations, for example, if the stove is left on when leaving the house. In addition, gradual changes and functional losses can be detected, so that members or nursing services can step in on time.
Sensor based fall prevention and recognition: Aim is the development of a technically stable system which automatically recognizes
fall incidents and, therefore, works without manual interaction by the dependent. Besides, technically measurable parametres relevant for mobility are analyzed and developed.
The scenarios are integrated in a common technical platform which can be upgraded and extended. The administration of health data can be done via a personal health record. Integrating the home environment into new care processes and the related changes within the medical care landscape is one component of the accompanying research. Additionally, the research network studies social and psychological conditions. Interdisciplinary working groups handle the subjects „data protection and personal information“ as well as “clinical geriatrics”.
The research network is coordinated by OFFIS and sponsored by the Ministry for Science and Culture of Lower Saxony. It has become an established interdisciplinary research group of geriatrics, gerontology, hearing technology, informatics, engineering, medicine, economy, nursing science, psychology, sociology and rehabilitation. In 2011, the research network´s activity was extended for another two years and the main focus will be on the technical evolution and field trials.
Besides OFFIS, the following partners are involved: Technical University Braunschweig, the Hannover Medical School, the University of Oldenburg, the HörTech Competence Center, the Fraunhofer Institute of Digital Media Technology in Oldenburg, the University of Vechta, the University of Osnabrück, the Charité Berlin and the University of Jena as well as St. Bonifatius Hospital Lingen/ Ems, the Geriatric Center in Oldenburg and the Städt. Klinikum Braunschweig.
GAL-subproject : Personal activity and house -hold assistant
With age, memory performance decreases: Important appointments are missed, medication not taken, the window is left open– life turns upside-down. And if, however, everyday life cannot be organized without help from the outside, affected persons have to give up some of their autonomy.
The GAL-subproject „Personal Activity and Household assistant“ supports older people in their home, using an electronic assistance system which reminds them of important activities and appointments. The assistant is integrated discreetly into the domestic sphere: It uses existing technical means, e.g. the television, the stereo or even the light in the premises as an unobstrusive reminder for upcoming appointments. The main focus lies on the suitable usability regarding the individual needs of the dependent. This gives the resident a feeling of security and allows a self-determined life in the own home.
GAL-subproject : personal electronic health record
If you have ever had to see a different doctor or a specialist or if you were just released from hospital, you know the problem: Your medical information is not available, treatment often has to start all over again.
Hence, the personal electronic health record (pEHR) gives the opportunity to store, check and manage one´s own medical data at home. The patient has direct access to his medical history and is able – if desired – to make the data available to a third party, e.g., to his doctors. Thus the patient receives more control over his health data. He gains a more comprehensive understanding for his health and takes over more responsibility for himself. This is of benefit for his health!
Data stored in the pEHR may be also used for other assistance systems. Therefore, the pEHR is able to interact with the GAL platform and then uses, e.g., the data from the determination of activity system. Moreover, the pEHR recognises emergency situations as for example a fall and can automatically set off an emergency call. Thus the resident´s security is improved and risks are minimized.
GAL- subproject : Determination of activity
Assistance systems are required to offer situation-oriented support. But this means these systems actually have to know the respective situation. Therefore, the determination of activity serves to record complex activities with technical sensors and, if necessary, detects deviations from typical behavior.
Daily activities , e.g. switching on the light or using the coffee machine are recorded by sensors automatically which are integrated into the apartment and then conclusions regarding complex activities, such as fixing breakfast, are drawn from the results. Gradual changes in the behavior of the user or a deviation in the daily routine are recognized and communicated according to predefined rules. Detected deficits can be compensated with adequate care or support, so that the dependent is able to remain in his home.
In a potentially dangerous situation the system also warns the resident directly. If, for example, the oven is still on when the resident is about to leave the apartment, he or she is reminded and can then decide: Did I forget to switch off the oven, or should the meat actually stew for another two hours?