CARE

One of the highest risks for elderly persons living alone or spending much time alone is  falling down and being unable to call for help, especially in case of loss of consciousness.  The main challenge in installing ICT-based monitoring systems is the balance between  surveillance and privacy, i.e. home safety versus ethics. Hence, since privacy is a  fundamental human right, any means for augmenting detection of critical situations in the  living environments of elderly persons need to respect and ensure privacy. Falls can occur principally in all home locations and situations. Wearable tools currently used for  monitoring elderly people are often disposed in such situations, rendering them of little  use for detecting potentially hazardous situations. As a consequence, “smart ambient”  approaches, like vision-based surveillance, appear to be more appropriate for that  purpose.

This CARE initiative is an end-user driven R&D activity where end-users represent major  market players in AAL activities as they are either elderly persons or they have direct  relation and responsibility towards elderly persons ensuring their safety and independent  living. The R&D consortium is well balanced where one third is research institutes (AIT,  BME EMT), one third is SMEs (Everon, SensoCube) and one third is end-users (Senioren  Wohnpark Weser in Germany and Yrjö & Hanna in Finland). Selected elderly homes of the  partner end-users are used for the evaluation and demonstration of the CARE concept.

In the early phase of the project, it was necessary to perform interviews of end-users and  collect a list of services needed as well as to find out the most relevant and frequent  critical situations encountered. More than 200 end-users (primary, secondary and tertiary)  in Austria, Finland, Germany and Hungary were questioned. The interviewed end-users  agreed that there is a definitive need for a fall detector at elderly homes and that the  actual fall detectors (e.g. wearable systems) are not satisfactory and do not have high  acceptance in the independent living context. Based on these interview results, a list of  requirements was created for the CARE ICT system with a focus on the person fall as the  main critical situation. Architecture of the biologically-inspired stereo vision sensor was  designed and the sensor and algorithms for the detection of falls were developed. The  CARE system is actually under testing and evaluation with first installations in Germany.

Objectives

The project CARE aims to realise an intelligent monitoring and alarming system for independent living of elderly persons. Specifically, this project targets the automated  recognition and alarming of critical situations (like fall detection) using a stationary (and  non-wearable) technology and real-time processing while preserving the privacy and  taking into account system dependability issues, especially ensuring reliability, availability,  security, and safety from a holistic point of view. A biologically-inspired dynamic stereo  vision sensor from AIT is being integrated into the Everon caring system for seamless  analysis and tracking of elderly persons at home. This real-time information is exploited  for incident detection (e.g., fall detection, immobilised person), and instantaneous  alarming the concerned parties.

Expected results and impact

The system concept mainly targets single individuals living in their own private homes. By targeting elderly persons living in their private homes, the business potential of CARE is huge.

The AAL market is changing and is expected to boom in the next few years as a result of demographic developments and large R&D investment by industries and stakeholders. Safety of elderly at home is a clear European dimension. Actual products on the market mainly consist of wearable systems and intelligent floor technologies and exist since several years; however their success is narrowed to limited market like nursing homes rather than the widespread aged communities.

In the context of independent living, wearable systems do not have the best acceptance for primary end-users (elderly persons), especially those who are not impaired.
The CARE system has a huge potential for exploitation and ensuring safety for independent living if the evaluation goes successful. The fall detection service can be integrated in the Everon caring system for a wider deployed in Europe strengthening the independent living market and society.

Project name: Safe Private Homes for Elderly Persons
Coordinator
: AIT Austrian Institute of Technology
Duration: 30 Months
Starting Date: July 1, 2009
Total budget: € 2.380.000
Public contribution: € 1.730.000

Contact

DR. AHMED NABIL BELBACHIR
AIT Austrian Institute of Technology
Donau-City-Straße 1 | 1220 Vienna | Austria
T +43(0) 50550-4215 | M +43 (0) 664 2351776 | F +43(0) 50550-4125
nabil.belbachir@ait.ac.at | www.ait.ac.at