Demographic change is becoming increasingly noticeable. We must therefore ask ourselves more than ever how we want to live in old age. For many people in need of care, for example, independent living is not a matter of course. However, technical aids can also make it possible for these people to remain healthy and safe in their accustomed living environment for longer.
The Living Lab IDEAAL - a fully functional two-room apartment - has been testing for more than 10 years in various scenarios how technological developments can help older people in their everyday lives and also support independent living at home in old age.
In the new nursing innovation centre PIZ, the use of robotics as well as technologies such as Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) are being researched in further laboratories and examined for application in the various nursing home locations, nursing homes, intensive care units and nursing home centres.
Demographic development and demographic change lead to changes in many areas of life, which already raise many questions today:
For most people, an independent life in their own apartment or house is the wish for personal aging. Especially after working life, one's own living environment becomes the centre of life. Its design for a long, healthy and safe stay at home becomes more and more urgent.
OFFIS has been addressing these social questions early on and has been working since 2003 on the development and integration of technical concepts that improve home care and support, offer new communication possibilities and support one's own mobility. Today, these concepts are referred to as "Ambient Assisted Living" (AAL).
Under the title "IDEAAL", innovative technical solutions are developed at OFFIS, questions of social and individual acceptance are considered, and challenges are examined that arise when integrating the domestic environment into the health system and its care processes. The human being with his abilities, needs and limitations is at the centre of the IDEAAL mission statement. Technical solutions for domestic support are seen in close connection with services provided by third parties and not as a substitute for human attention. The home is to be designed as an environment that supports domestic life itself, self-sufficiency, but also mobility and communication. The aim is to maintain integration into the social network of family and friends, acquaintances and neighbours. Particularly in the case of physical limitations such as diminishing sensory functions or chronic illnesses, nursing and medical care providers are closely involved and, if necessary, other service providers are called in. In this way, IDEAAL wants to help people to stay in their familiar environment for longer through optimal technical support and thus meet the individual wishes of the elderly in the future, while at the same time keeping the care system as a whole stable and affordable.
An important challenge for OFFIS is to deal with the needs and requirements from different areas of domestic support for older people. While for "younger elderly" comfort and communication functions as well as preventive support are in the foreground and give the user the possibility to get used to technical concepts, the focus for middle-aged and very old people shifts in the course of time increasingly to the compensation of decreasing physical abilities, the support of chronic diseases, rehabilitation as well as security in the domestic environment.
A modular structure makes it possible to introduce technical solutions at an early stage and to familiarize users with their use and operation. This enables a low-threshold introduction to the individually selectable modules. Growing solutions adapt to changing requirements. The various tasks and requirements result in a wide range of requirements for the technical solutions They must be cost-effective and retrofittable. The benefits and operability in particular influence the acceptance of technical solutions: Non-stigmatizing, meaningful, user- and benefit-oriented systems are therefore at the forefront of the approaches designed under IDEAAL.
With IDEAAL also the visibility and "comprehensibility" of the topic "Ambient Assisted Living" should be further strengthened essentially. A central component of all development work is therefore the early discussion with the individual user groups such as seniors, doctors and caregivers. In 2005, OFFIS established the IDEAAL apartment, one of the first European living laboratories for research and demonstration purposes. Initially designed as a single showroom, it quickly achieved a high level of visibility and significance, so that it was soon expanded into its current form as a complete two-room apartment.
The regional and national visibility of IDEAAL activities is high: television and radio, regional and national newspapers have already reported on IDEAAL. In this way, organisations and companies could be sensitised to AAL and won as partners. OFFIS' AAL network is therefore well developed regionally and supra-regionally. It includes research partners such as the University of Oldenburg, HörTech, Fraunhofer IDMT or the Institute for Palliative Care as well as clinical and medical institutions such as the Geriatric Centre Oldenburg, the Pius Hospital and the Palliative Centre Oldenburg, the Hanover Medical School and the Charité, care providers such as the Johanniter Unfallhilfe and local nursing services, but also large national and international industrial companies such as Siemens, Philips or NEC.
As a laboratory and crystallization point for AAL activities, IDEAAL offers impulses for the development of new, trend-setting AAL technologies, which can be tested, presented and discussed in an interdisciplinary way. The results of the discussions with the individual user groups are implemented and integrated in successive development steps. This allows completely new requirements to be identified with end users and service providers and to lead to new, innovative, technical ideas, which are then checked for feasibility and acceptance. Thus IDEAAL creates the ideal breeding ground for new services and products.