One of the biggest challenges of industrial societies consists in the demographic change with their aging societies. Germany is a good example: By 2030, according to the Federal Statistical Office, the group of 65- to 79-year-olds will grow by more than a quarter and the group of the 80-year-olds and older by more than half. The cost of care is rising, among other things, by the higher life expectancy from currently around 1.3 per cent of the gross domestic product to as much as 2.7 per cent in 2050.
Many children cannot look after their parents and already today there is a lack of nurses. According to a survey by the market researcher TNS Infratest, most persons concerned want to live inde-pendently (93 percent of the interviewees), preferably in their own home (67 percent) [TNS]. They want to remain self-determined and autonomous in their usual environment as an active part of society and supported by an affordable care.
In order to maintain the quality of care in the future and at the same time to reduce the costs, technical solutions are needed to relieve the staff of the ambulatory care services. These are in-creasingly suffering from personnel shortages and the pressure to provide care for even more people in a shorter period of time. Moreover there is a great demand that the social component of care should be brought back into focus. In many cases people are afraid of living alone and would like a very close monitoring, which today can only be made inadequate or at a high cost.
Unlike often thought some technology is already used and well accepted among the elderlies. In order to facilitate day-to-day management, mowing and vacuum cleaner robots are already widely purchased by seniors or their relatives. There is even the strong hypothesis that for the first time a high-tech environment is initially adapted by the elderly and people who need assistance. It is then passed on to the younger generation - just the opposite of normal technology penetration. The acceptance for the smart home solutions is so big because the alternative moving to a senior home is not a desirable perspective. With the smartification of the home by the Internet of the Things, completely new possibilities arise in order to preserve and promote the autonomy and well-being of the elderly people.
The automatic analysis of sensor data for activity and behavior monitoring and the automatic detec-tion of emergency situations are already the subject of current projects. Most often the activity of the wearer can be derived from the sensory data of a body-worn tag [GUP]. Experiences prove that classic approaches of the house emergency call, which are based on a device for emergency notification worn around the neck or arm tapes, are often not accepted by the elderlies. They do not wear them regularly, forget to put them on after showering, do not load the batteries, or feel restricted. Therefore sensors must be distributed in the home –people should not be responsible for wearing the sensors.
Technical devices currently available offer a variety of potentials, but also involve risks. Typically, the data collected by the devices for the acquisition of vital data (such as motion trackers, blood pressure monitors) are transferred to the cloud of the device manufacturer and are commercial-ized by the device manufacturer. For the end user the utilization of his or her data is not transpar-ent. However, it is necessary for the wide acceptance of such systems that topics like data auton-omy (the user can decide what can be done with their data) data protection and security are given a special role.
Another problem with today's devices in the fields of vital data acquisition and smart home is the lacking interoperability of the devices and the intelligent aggregation of the data from the different sources. The data is stored in different unconnected data silos – a lot of information cannot be de-rived. A data platform that integrates the various data sources is vital to analyze the current and predictive conditions plus special demand situations of the resident. The modularity, the extensi-bility of new sensors and the hardware independence is important for such software solutions. [HMK + 10]
In the last few years, various international projects in the field of ambient assisted living (AAL) have been carried out (for example, HOMEBUTLER, I-stay @ home).
However, the market penetration of the previously commercially available AAL systems is very low [ICTA] and there is not one single project that is widely commercially successful. What are the problems that need to be overcome? First of all, solutions are mostly focused on technology devel-opment. In addition the political barriers, the costs and the missing collaboration of the participating institutions, the lack of reliability, interoperability and extensibility are responsible for this market failure. Moreover it is difficult to put such a system into operation and the user friendliness is most often a big problem. Open system interfaces that are required to ensure sustainable investment protection for end users [AAL 10a], [AAL 10b], [VDE10] [LUT14] are missing. But the biggest prob-lem is that all projects are based on public funding! A successful business model needs to involve payments of the whole eco system – the resident, the housing association, health insurance and social security funds and others. It will not work with only one single source of revenue.