Innovations for an ageing society

Have you heard of the “AAL Programme”?

The world is currently experiencing an unprecedented demographic shift with an increasing number of men and women reaching old age. To better meet the needs of the elderly, new approaches are needed. The aim of the AAL – “Active and Assisted Living” – Programme is to improve the quality of life of the elderly thanks to technological innovations, which are being developed through international consortia. Switzerland is in fact a leader in the research and development of technologies for better ageing. Swiss organisations are involved in a third of all projects in the programme and have a success rate of over 30% in the yearly AAL calls.

We would like to give you insights into the programme by presenting four innovative projects involving Swiss project participants. These case studies have also been featured in a recent national publication on the AAL programme produced by SERI (the Swiss Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation).

Elderly woman typing on the smartphone. Grandma.

PROJECT EDLAH

Services via tablet for older people

The Enhanced Daily Living And Health (EDLAH) project is designed to help seniors live autonomously for as long as possible by providing them with all the information and assistance they need. The product is a tablet-based application that offers various services. For example, it can help users find lost objects, provide nutritional advice, remind users to take their medication and facilitate social interaction. Older people play a central role in the development of EDLAH services, which also extend to cover the needs of carers.

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The consortium consists of four partner countries: the United Kingdom, Belgium, Austria and Switzerland. On the Swiss side, the project partners are the SME EverdreamSoft, the end-user organisation La Maison de Retraite du Petit-Saconnex and the research institution University of Geneva. The project was completed in October 2015. The consortium is set to market the product under the name iCare24/7. At the same time, 2016 will see the launch of a new project, EDLAH2, which covers additional user needs. The focus will be on ‘gamification’ (integrating gaming elements) and activity monitoring, both specifically designed for and with seniors.

PROJECT ALMA

Making orientation problems a thing of the past

Project ALMA develops modular technologies to support the mobility and orientation of older people. The solution benefits end-users by providing indoor monitoring, assisted navigation, user interfacing, intelligent wheelchair control, route planning and scheduling.

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Typical use cases:

  • A visitor to a nursing home has orientation difficulties and needs help. She receives interactive information through a navigation interface, which takes account of her (dis)abilities. Her route is selected to avoid crowds and obstacles.
  • A resident of a nursing home is automatically reminded about an appointment. A self-driving wheelchair comes to pick him up and transports him safely to his destination with the help of smart navigation, sensors and steering mechanisms. Based on wheelchairs produced by Swiss company Degonda-Rehab SA, the product’s functionality is to be extended to include intelligent, automated steering and interactive control elements and services to meet the needs of older people.The consortium is made up of four partner countries: Italy, the United Kingdom, Germany and Switzerland. The Swiss institutions involved are the research institution Scuola Universitaria Professionale della Svizzera Italiana (SUPSI), the end-user organisations Istituti Sociali di Chiasso and Clinica Hildebrand and the above mentioned SME Degonda- Rehab SA.

Based on wheelchairs produced by the Swiss company Degonda-Rehab SA, the product’s functionality is to be extended to include intelligent, automated steering and interactive control elements and services to meet the needs of older people.

The consortium is made up of four partner countries: Italy, the United Kingdom, Germany and Switzerland. The Swiss institutions involved are the research institution Scuola Universitaria Professionale della Svizzera Italiana (SUPSI), the end-user organisations Istituti Sociali di Chiasso and Clinica Hildebrand and the above mentioned SME Degonda- Rehab SA.

PROJECT RELAXEDCARE

Communicating via a cube

“How’s mum doing today?” This question is always at the back of an informal caregiver’s mind. RelaxedCare answers questions like these in a simple, comprehensible and discreet way by exchanging information on an individual’s wellbeing with their families. RelaxedCare offers a new type of communication that strengthens contact between seniors and their relatives.

RelaxedCare is a completely new type of communication and care. While the functions are powered by behaviour recognition algorithms, the aesthetically pleasing user interface – in the form of a cube and a smartphone app – makes RelaxedCare look more like a user-friendly lifestyle product. The behaviour recognition is displayed on the cube or smartphone using different colours. The product could be used in many areas beyond care situations.

The prototype, which was developed with the involvement of more than 200 potential end-users, is expected to be developed as a market-ready product in the next three years.

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The project partners come from Austria, Slovenia, Spain and Switzerland. The Swiss partners consist of the research institution iHomeLab of the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, the SMEs Eichenberger Szenografie and soultank AG, and the end-user organisation Swiss Red Cross Lucerne.

PROJECT IRONHAND 

Improved gripping technology thanks to a smart glove

Good hand function is central to the performance of virtually all tasks in daily life, such as occupational activities, personal care and leisure activities. As people get older, their hand function tends to decline. This can have a dramatic impact on their quality of life. The IronHand project aims to enable older people to cope with daily tasks and to help them stay active in their work and community activities and maintain good health.

The IronHand system is based on a soft robotic glove that discreetly supports a person’s grip function. In therapeutic mode, the system is connected to an external computer to offer patients personalised therapeutic hand exercises and monitoring. The system gathers valuable data on the user’s grip strength, allowing them to receive customised treatment to improve their hand function and keep them involved in social activities.

 

IronHand is a project between partners from the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland. Swiss participants are the SME Hocoma AG and the end-user organisation terzStiftung.

See here another video

AAL: Swiss contact point and Forum 

Find the whole AAL catalogue “Innovations for an ageing society” here. For further information, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Daniel Egloff (daniel.egloff@sbfi.admin.ch) or visit the webpage: www.sbfi.admin.ch/aal.

Another way of finding out about AAL’s research and development in the field of active ageing is the AAL Forum. The AAL Forum is the largest annual event for age-appropriate technologies in Europe and a network platform for anyone active or interested in AAL. This year’s AAL Forum will take place from the 26th to the 28th September in St. Gallen, Switzerland. You can register for the whole event, including the opening ceremony on Monday, September 26, and the big closing ceremony that will include dinner and a party on Wednesday, September 28. You can also register for single days (registering for Tuesday includes entry to the evening ceremony on Monday; registering for Wednesday includes entry to the closing ceremony). For more information and registration, please visit the Forum’s website and have a look at the video from last year’s AAL Forum in Gent.

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