From a huge entry of close to 200 entries, fifteen finalists have been shortlisted for the AAL Smart Ageing Challenge prize, which is offering €50,000 for the best innovation that uses the Internet of Things to empower older adults to achieve the quality of life they aspire to, socially and independently.
After receiving so many fantastic ideas from all over Europe, the judges whittled down the entrants to the fifteen best, who will now move on to the next stage of the competition. This will involve going to an exciting Innovation Academy in Brussels, where they will receive advice about their technology and business mentoring, while they seek to impress the judges further and make it to the grand final, which will be held at the AAL Forum 2016 in St Gallen, Switzerland.
“We were delighted by the variety of entries we received,” says Karin Weiss, Deputy Managing Director and Head of Grants at the AGE Foundation and one of the competition judges. “We saw many interesting solutions and were particularly impressed by the approach taken to bridging the gap between the older and younger generations, as well as the approach to stabilising the quality of life at home for older people. “The challenge now is to identify a winner that is exciting, commercially viable and close to the edge of the market,” she adds. “We want to see the prize being used to connect this potential with investors, refining the prototypes and creating impetus to get the solution to market.”
All the finalists are using new, adapted and repurposed technologies that demonstrate a new or adaptive way of solving a problem or challenge faced by older people. And there is some interesting variety between the entrants, which range from a virtual assistant that can hear, speak and execute commands using speech recognition, to a wearable device that nudges the user to perform certain beneficial behaviours, giving the older person independence and responsibility for themselves. Several of the entries provide assistance to the carer as well, giving them ways to look after their loved ones via the internet and provide easy-to-use methods for communication. Communication was a challenge many entrants addressed, with one solution reaching the last 15 by offering enhanced communication for speech-disable older people, using a mobile app to translate unintelligible sounds into clear speech in real time. Another area of interest for the judges was for products that promote an active lifestyle for the elderly. One finalist allows users to cycle through and explore familiar and new areas using a stationary bike and Google Streetview, providing healthy exercise as well as stimulating memories.
Meanwhile, several finalists address various impairments often suffered by older people. One solution provides smart device screens tailored to the needs of the visually impaired individual to help them see by enriching the image the person sees to make it easier to understand. Another helps the visually impaired with a set of smart glasses providing real-time video augmentation to improve sight. Memory loss is another huge challenge faced by many older people, and several finalists address this with a variety of internet-based solutions. One helps people with memory issues by providing contextual records of shared history with family, friends and places to help the user prepare for events in the day. Most of the finalists provide IoT solutions that not only help and support the older person, but also those close to them and those who care for them. A good example of this is a system for “connecting” people’s individual belongings in residential homes, ensuring they are not lost or given to the wrong person, saving time and money for the staff and reassuring the older person that their property is safe.
The high quality of entrants and the number of solutions proposed is concrete evidence that the IoT is revolutionising the way we live, helping individuals, business and society as a whole, while it is hoped that by providing better services for all in society it will also help boost the global economy. It seems evident that one area where IoT has the potential to have the greatest impact is in enhancing the lives of older people. It’s a huge area for growth. With a rapidly-rising ageing population, which will see a third of all Europeans over 65 within 40 years of now, society is now facing huge challenges as well as huge opportunities. Not only can IoT offer solutions to help older people live more active lives at home for longer and remain connected to society, older people are more and more willing to embrace technology and use the solutions technology provides. It was with these opportunities in mind, that the AAL Programme — an organisation dedicated to supporting research on innovative ICT-enhanced services for ageing — launched the Smart Ageing Challenge Prize, which will give a €50,000 top prize for the best IoT innovation designed to enable older people to achieve the best possible quality of life, socially and independently.
What are the judges looking for from the final 15?
Karina Marcus, AAL’s CMU Director and one of the judges explains the next stages. “The fact that the majority of the finalists already have a prototype show that the community has understood the objectives of the competition,” she says. “The AAL Programme is very satisfied and will support the finalists in improving their ideas in the dedicated academy event, which will take place mid-July in Brussels. “The 15 finalists will now need to demonstrate at this Academy that their particular innovations are exciting, aspirational and not necessarily designed simply for older people but for all, while the quality and usability of the entries will also be closely scrutinised. “The finalists will be further judged on their market potential. Their products have been selected for their commercial viability and they will now be asked to show that they have thought about business models and getting the product on to the market – is it replicable, has it been properly costed, in terms of production and retail costs, what is the competition? “Our very committed jury assessed many extremely interesting ideas amd selected these finalists of the Challenge Prize,” she concludes. “We are very excited to be entering the final stages now when an IoT solution with real potential will win the top prize.”
After the Innovation Academy, the judges will pick three of the finalists to attend the AAL Forum in St. Gallen, Switzerland in September. The forum is AAL’s showcase event, attracting stakeholders from across the globe working on addressing the needs of older adults using ICT. This year’s theme is “Innovations Ready For Breakthrough”, reflecting the need for good ideas and innovative technology to make it to the market quickly and have a significant impact on society’s older people.
The AAL is looking for the winner of the Smart Ageing Challenge Prize to demonstrate exactly what is needed to make innovations in this field a success.
The full list of finalists
Cycling platform using a stationary bike Google Streetview, designed to provide valuable exercise and stimulate memories and interaction with others.
Memories on the cloud – photos, video, music etc – to create a personal family network. Active participation and gamification techniques combat the effects of Alzheimer’s.
Anne – your personal assistant
Friendly, human-looking on-screen avatar to support the older person with simple tasks and complement professional care.
Providing smart, well-being guidance and continuous health monitoring based on intelligent mouse and eye-tracking, preserving and improving well-being in the work environment.
Emma – my personal assistant for home
Applications and real services helping in the home and connecting the older person to social networks.
Video chat device designed to digitally connect older generations to their family through a simple, easy-to-use interface.
Wearable, hands-free, vision-enhancement application powering smart glasses to assist visually impaired people.
A well-being monitor for older people living alone using a smart power socket which checks older people every hour to give families peace of mind.
A memory app designed to help people make the most of each day by creating contextual records of shared history with family, friends and places to help users prepare for social events and journeys.
A smart home IoT tool connecting seniors with loved ones, providing well-being status and simple communication.
Revolutionary Internet of Things (RIOT)
Data insights from IoT sensors trigger behavioural nudges sent to wearable or in-home devices- empowering people to best support themselves.
A speech recognition solution using technology that translates the unintelligible sounds of the speech-disabled into clear speech in real time.
A system designed to help developers make up-to-date technology usable for everyone following the “design-for-all” approach, enabling care providers to provide services for designed specifically for their customers.
A system designed for retirement homes that connects the belongings of individuals to ensure they are not lost or picked up by the wrong people. Avoids errors, inspires trust and saves money and time in looking for and replacing lost items.
Visual assistant for the visually impaired
Smart device screens tailored to your eye condition to enable you to see – reconnect to community, culture, learning and relaxation.