The project will develop a personal, user-centred enabling system, with services, for use by an elderly person in or out of the home, to mitigate the effects of any disability and to increase quality of life: independence, autonomy, mobility, communications, care and safety. The system will be based on a distributed open platform, enabling other services to be added by third parties, by "plugging" into defined interfaces. The platform includes a mobile phone, enabling the user to get out and about, for visiting, shopping, recreation, etc, whilst maintaining contact for help and services.
- Problems of everyday living to be addressed include:
- using the phone
- raising the alarm in emergency to get help
- being monitored for health conditions, a fall, or sign of distress, with automatic raising of alarm
- labelling of medicine, and checking that it's taken
- turning things on and off around the house, and checking their status, e.g. for cooking
- For a person with dementia:
- knowing where you are, and what to do
- recognising somebody at the door to let them in
- being found if wandering
- For somebody with poor eyesight:
- shopping for things and subsequently identifying them
- checking details in small print
- writing text for messages
- reading text from messages
The aim of the project is to develop an open and highly accessible reference architecture, to which subsystems and services can be seamlessly added according to particular needs of elderly people and their carers.
The system is built round a dual platform of mobile phone and wrist unit, to which will be added modular capabilities for alarm function, control of appliances and other devices around the home, identification of objects, identifying the user's location, health monitoring and security. The project addresses mobile phone accessibility by providing a highly accessible user interface extension, using the wrist unit and speech guidance.
As we have said above, the overall strategic objective is to:
- improve the quality of life for an elderly person wanting to lead, or to continue to lead, an independent life
- assist in carrying out daily activities
- monitor health and activity, especially reduce the risk of having a fall or other trauma
- improve access in emergency, for safely and security, especially in the case of a fall
- facilitate social contacts
- increase the length of time that the elderly person can stay at home before moving to an institution
- improve the quality of life and costs for their carers, especially for friends or relatives that might not be living, or want to live, in the same house, but are anxious about leaving the elderly person by themselves
- improve the standard of care provided by local social services, and the cost of providing that care
- reduce the amount of time that the elderly person spends in hospital before they can be safely sent home
- improve the quality of life for the elderly person recovering from treatment, or with a terminal illness, who wants to stay at home
The elderly person may be frail, forgetful, vision or hearing impaired, liable to health problems, be under medication, prone to falls, in need of help or advice in an emergency, etc. Yet they will want to lead as normal a life as possible. They will need exercise and social contact, so may wish to go out at least once a day if they are physically able.
There must be a means of communication, from wherever they are, so it is natural to include a mobile phone in the system. But it may be difficult for them - the elderly person - to operate a mobile phone, so we provide an extension to the user interface, by way of a wrist unit with some large buttons. A mobile phone offers a means of talking with a helper at a moment's notice. And with broadband connection (WCDMA) the mobile phone offers a means of communicating pictures. Furthermore, the elderly person can be monitored for position, movement, or physiological function, and the data communicated over the broadband connection to the helper. All these capabilities can be integrated into "services" on the distributed system comprising wrist unit, sensors, mobile phone, telecommunications network and, at the other end, a helper with their own system (which we call the "service centre"). The concrete objective of the project is to develop such a system, and implement and trial a number of services which are valuable in meeting the strategic objectives.
As nobody wants wires trailing around their body, the wrist unit is connected to the mobile phone wirelessly using Bluetooth. Other components of the system include wrist unit software (real-time operating system and user interface), text-to-speech software (TTS), automatic speech recognition software (ASR), service centre infrastructure and access to databases on the Internet. These components of the system are called "subsystems" hereafter. The functions that provide capabilities to the user (and/or other stakeholders) are grouped into "services". A service typically includes the human element at the "service centre", i.e. wherever a suitable helper might be, able to receive calls from the elderly person's mobile phone. We consider the integrated components/subsystems as a "platform" on which the services can be implemented.
The project is managed in two phases. The subsystems are developed into a first prototype platform, PP1 in the first phase, and then are further developed for a second prototype platform, PP2. The services are also developed in two phases, such that the services from the first phase can be evaluated on PP1, and those from the second phase on PP2.
General View of Enable System: Elderly Person wearing a wrist unit and mobile phone. The system enables direct interaction with the environment and - via network - the contact to web based services, service centre operator and a care person
More information can be found on the project web-page at http://www.enable-project.eu/
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