Lower Saxony Research Network Design of Environments for Ageing

Deutsche Fassung

The results of the years 1 to 3 are described below.

An assistance system for everyday activities and planning at home, the "personal activity and household assistant" (PAHA), was developed. Due to the user-centered design approach interviews with end-users and experts were conducted and, based on the results, multimodal user interfaces were developed in an iterative process. Required technologies for the presentation of information in residential homes such as auditory (speech and non-speech sounds), visual and tactile output were developed and implemented as well as technologies for information entry and localisation. The PAHA was tested in the target group of people in middle adulthood and also in a study with very old people and in a domestic environment.

A demonstrator system, including sensors and algorithms for the ambient, unobtrusive and automatic monitoring of daily activities, with special focus on preparation and consumption of meals and beverages, was developed and evaluated in laboratory settings and field studies with older people. Single-case studies were tested in 10 real domestic environments. Expert interviews were conducted with focus on framework conditions like information presentation, stakeholders, data privacy in a professional care setting and burden of relatives. Technical infrastructure (visualization, personal electronic health record) was also implemented.

A demonstrator system for fall recognition, consisting of accelerometers and optical sensors including data fusion, was developed. The long-term evaluation took place in domestic environments (56 appartements) of fall risk patients.

For fall prediction, a complete clinical laboratory was installed and a clinical study with 15 participants was conducted. The tested system included accelerometers and optical sensors and the participants completed a movement course with physiotherapeutic assessments. Through a follow up study, fall events were detected.

The technical platform for the support of all demonstrator systems was developed and installed as a prototype, required sensors and actors were connected. Multimodal user interfaces were integrated, a web-based graphical user interface for system configuration and use of the personal electronic health record was implemented. Software modules for alarm routing, temporary deactivation, data import from hospital information systems, persistent and encrypted internet-based data storage, data security and decision support system (based on the HL7 Arden syntax) were realized and integrated to the technical platform.

The interdisciplinary cross-cutting projects worked on the following questions.

  • discussion of needs and opportunities of technological assistance systems with experts, concerned persons, and potential users,
  • theoretical as well as empirical elaboration of the intention to use technologies,
  • survey of individual attitudes towards GAL technologies,
  • investigation of economic consequences of technology use,
  • exploration of evaluations and attitudes of professionals by the use of qualitative methods,
  • development of a methodological inventory to evaluate new technologies and thereby exploration of the practicability of GAL technologies.

The project consisted of several important steps:

  1. An initial survey (n=783) that was used as a recruitment strategy for participants for the analysis of subsequent user requirement studies.
  2. Development of a theoretical model to explain technology acceptance, followed by the conception and validation of a scale to measure technology commitment.
  3. This scale and additional questions on technology experience, attitudes towards the GAL scenarios, and socio-demographic variables were then used in a representative survey of the population of Lower Saxony aged 49 and older (n=2.029).
  4. We furthermore explored the issues of barriers and scopes for design of age-appropriate living conditions as well as technological support in the context of caregivers, nurses, and several populations that are generally missed in representative designs such as older migrants or older adults with disabilities.
  5. A further sub-project addressed the demand and supply situation in rural areas by conducting a full population survey of individuals aged between 69 and 71 in the district of Vechta.

To realize the transfer into care structures, sensor-enhanced trans-institutional information system architectures were analysed with focus on framework conditions for new forms of care with assisting technologies. Therefore, a nomenclature for sensor-enhanced trans-institutional information system architectures in health care was developed. In parallel to this conceptual work, the development of the GAL application scenarios was supported. During years 4 and 5 a prototype study measuring acceptance and usability of home-based acquired data for aftercare of patients with fractures was carried out. This study was a cooperation with the Lower Saxonian society for geriatrics (German: Landesverband für Geriatrie).