A technical platform for environments for ageing – lessons learned from three field studies

Eichelberg, Marco; Büsching, Felix; Steen, Enno-Edzard; Helmer, Axel; Thiel, Andreas; Hein, Andreas; Wolf, Lars
Informatics for Health and Social Care
The Lower Saxony Research Network ‘‘Design of Environments for Ageing’’ (GAL) studied possible applications of assistive technology for enabling older adults to live longer and independent in their own home. As part of this work, a technical platform was developed as a common technical basis for all assistive systems in the project. This article presents an overview of the architecture and core functionality of the technical platform, which in the first generation was developed for use in a laboratory setting, and in a second generation was extended for use in the project’s field studies, i.e. prototype installations in end-users homes. The field studies’ primary objective was the evaluation of the assistive technologies, that were developed within the overall project. However, these studies also confirmed that the fundamental concept of the technical platform is valid, and the prototypes continuously worked 24 h a day for several months. However, there were some problems related to lack of infrastructure in the older adults’ homes and human factors such as inadvertent placement of objects across sensors’ field of view, acceptance problems due to aesthetical reasons or simply communication problems, which show that making complex technologies work for users with little technical experience is well possible, but requires a careful consideration of the complete service chain and related ‘‘soft factors’’.
9 / 2014
Lower Saxony Research Network Design of Environments for Ageing