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Self-Determined Living at Home for the Elderly

Assistance Systems Alleviate and Secure Daily Life

Self-determined and safe living at home as principle goal
Picture credits:
© Andrey Kiselev / Fotolia.com

Target Groups

During the course of our life, a safe and healthy aging, if possible in the familar home, gains more and importance for most of us. The specfic safeguarding interest in an AAL (ambient assisted living) assistance system is differentiated by the respective age group:

  • for younger seniors, a protection against sudden accidents and fateful health blows during activities practiced alone is in the center of interest, for professional as well as leisure activities - for job, sports, fitness and hobbies.
  • for best age senior citizens, the support in the presense of age specific diseases, e.g. adult-onset diabetes or MCI (mild cognitive impairment, not significant enough to interfere with daily activities), is of high value.
  • for seniors at very high age, continuous assistance is of especial importance, in order to cope with the consequence of increasing infirmity and obliviousness as good as possible and nevertheless continue to live at home in a safe and self-determined way.
Ambient assisted living assistance system have to consider these age specific different requirements in their scope of offered services.

The three target groups for assistance systems for elderly
Picture credits: © Dr.-Ing. Rainer lutze Consulting

Solution Architecture

The solution architecture for the ambient assisted living assistance system utilizes the component smartwatch for: 1) communication, 2) the display of personalized orientation information and 3) capturing and condensing sensor data. Communication will be typically carried out with a home emergency call center. Position data concerning the current location of the smartwatch wearer and further relevant vital data will be additionally transmitted from the smartwatch to the center during a speech connection via SMS. The presented orientation information substantially builds on personal data regarding the wearer and his/her family. The applied central LTAS component, the long term analysis server, is the leading system for these personal data and thus has to support appropriate security and high availability technologies. From there, data will be effciently synchronized with the end devices for a new installation, data update or device replacement. Relevant sensoric data will be transmitted in encrypted form from the smartwatch (or an additional stationary assistance system) to the LTAS, aggregated to an activity and movement profile and temporarily stored. Within a crisis situation, even when the smartwatch cannot be reached anymore, at any point of time from the LTAS information regarding the last transmitted position, ... can be made available for the home emergency call center. From the LTAS personal data, recommendations for avoiding health hazards can be derived and communicated to the smartwatch wearer, on demand or periodically in a previously agreed scope. Or, distant relatives, for example childern, will be informed about the actual wellbeing of their senior parents in a suitable way.

On these information services, the business model of the assistance systems will be based.

The technical solution architecture
Picture credits: © Dr.-Ing. Rainer lutze Consulting

Scope of Services

IT based assistance services can be grouped in four areas:

  • Communication. Direct speech connections do help to clarify circumstances and to customize help. With smartwatches such a communication may be established practically everywhere at home and - with suitable devices - also on the go. Independently from the situation, whether a suitable mobile phone or a landline telefone is at hand in this moment. Communication partner will be a home emergency call center or an available family member. The phone call may be placed manually or automatically, if a respective prealert on the smartwatch has not been answered.
  • Orientation. A discreet glance at the smartwatch will not only deliver information about time, day of the week, date, month and year. The hints on current holidays, the own birthday as well as the birthdays of relevant relatives (wife, chldren, ... ) help to master communication in daily life. Also, presented hints for the necessary intake of medication or fluids, drinking, are useful. Or the reminder, offer, to automatically switch-off still active hazardous appliances (e.g. electric stove) when leaving the home.
  • Localization. This includes geographic position determination (typically via Wifi/GPS/GlONASS) and may include automatic detection and alerting when evacuating agreed occupation zones, »geofencing«.
  • Detection and Prevention of Health Hazards. The integrated sensors of a smartwatch, typically 3D accelerometers, gyroscopes, compass, pulsometer, pedometer, barometer allow for a detection of tumbles, but are also suggestive for the ADLs (activities of daily life) practiced by the smartwatch wearer. With an activity profile specfic for the day of the week, initially trained and later on automatically adapted, the excessive duration of ADLs, excessive inactivity periods between ADLs and significant deviations of the used (ciradianic) life rhythm can be detected specific to the day. Whereas the detection and alerting for immediate health hazards can be executed on the smartwatch, it is suitable to calculate the necessary information for the prevention of health hazards - due to the necessary computational power and in order to account for a more comprehensive context (e.g. local weather onsite) - on a central server, the LTAS (Long Term Analysis Server).

It has to be further considered that with respect to the current state of (battery) technology, as well as by typical user customs, a smartwatch will not be worn around the clock. In fact, in addition to the smartwatch a stationary assistance system at home will be needed in the foreseeable future, if assistance for nightly activities (e.g. transfer to and from toilet) shall be realized. The stationary assistance systems will be typically combined with a smart home automation system, for example to execute the swicht-off / switch-on requests for hazardous appliances (electric stove) transmitted from the smartwatch upon leaving/reentering the houshold. The typical use cases an ambient assisted living assistance system will implement in total are described in the attached UML diagram.

The Digital Business Model

The plenitude of data from the smartwatch and the smart home allow for a mining of valuable information - by aggregation of the data over time and mirroring of these individual data against the average values of people in the same age group and with a comparable health condition - targeting the wearer of the smartwatch and his rsp. her relatives. The derived information will typically be provisioned in the form of personal recommendations for the prevention of potential health hazards. Or in form of information regarding the current wellbeing of seniors at high age rsp. persons requiring nursing in their home, which is especially of interest for distant childern or care giving relatives of the affected persons. Both are monetary benefits and thus suited as the basis of a digital business model for the ambient assisted living assistance system.

Big data from the smart home
Picture credits: © Dr.-Ing. Rainer lutze Consulting, yellowj / Fotolia.com

The target groups for the information service are the senior inhabitants of the smart home, especially the smartwatch wearer, in addition care giving relatives and family members, children living far away.

The value proposition includes the reliable, also automatic alerting of external help (home emergency call center, available children, care giving relatives), even when no own (re)action will be possible. But also the information of children, relatives about the actual wellbeing of their beloved ones, in previously agreed frequency and scope. Especially for care-giving relatives, these informations enable flexible opportunities for their everyday life even in the presense of their demanding care-giving task.

The value creation chain includes at first the capturing of the activities in the smart home and on the go. Typically by presense / movement sensors of stationary assistance systems and the integrated sensors of the smartwatch. Condensing of these data to ADLs and comparing them with the learned, day specific, typical behavior determines, if a crisis situation will have to be assumed or not. Dependent on this assessment - after a prealert - an immediate alerting of the intended organizations / persons will take place. The LTAS component will deduce personal health recommendations from the condensed data, the server will inform family members and authorized persons about the relevant events in the smart home and on the go in summarized form. With an discreet glance at the smartwatch, at any time the wearer will get orientation information for his daily life and regarding his/her family affairs.

The yield mechanism of the digital business model balances the periodic revenues from the subscription of the information services against the costs for data transmission to and from the smartwatches, home automation systems, the operation costs LTAS as well as the costs for the evolution of especially the LTAS analysis software. Also the costs for 24/7 mobile ursing services and the home emergency calling center have to be accounted here.

Multivalent Utility

For an investment in an ambient assisted living assistance system, finally its multivalent utility is decisive, i.e. its simultaneous utility also for safety, comfort and energy efficiency in the household. An automatic lighting control does not only help to avoid domestic accidents, typically caused by negligent omittence to turn on light, it is also a nice comfort function in the smart home. Already at young age. The week day specific activity profile of inhabitants compiled by the assistance system delivers exactly the information in order to heat up / cool down individual rooms of the home exclusively when they will be needed and thus to save energy (IRC, iindividual roomccontrol of heating / cooling).

The multivalent utility concept of the assistance system
Picture credits: © Dr.-Ing. Rainer lutze Consulting