Technology and Active & Assisted Living (AAL)

Active & Assisted Living (AAL) comprises the technological assistance systems that support and improve the quality of life of the older adults.

Due to demographic change and longer life expectancies in the future, an increasing number of people will be in need of care. There is already a shortage of nursing staff. In addition, more and more relatives, especially children and parents, are living further apart, which makes it much more difficult, or even impossible, to care for each other. To respond appropriately to these social developments, it is necessary to develop technological systems to support and assist older adults.

Unobtrusive and «invisible»

The term Active & Assisted Living (AAL) encompasses technological innovations and services which support and improve the quality of life of older adults. These include technologies that help them to lead self-determined and independent lives, and which can be classified into the following areas: communication and social environment, security, medicine and care, mobility, and housing and household. Specific examples include: fall detectors or other alarms warning of fire or flooding in the living room, motion detectors in the interior living space, communication devices and vital data measuring devices for home use, as well as services such as online shopping, communication via the internet and video telephony with the family doctor. The aim of AAL technologies is to provide support in daily life that is as «invisible» as possible. The techniques are user-centred and integrated into the living environments of the older adults.

For these technical devices and assistive systems to become established in society, potential user groups must be willing to use them and integrate them in their daily lives. The eventual end users must therefore be involved in the development process. Participatory design and development of technology will prove increasingly relevant, especially when it comes to innovations that affect the quality of life of older adults.

The IAF makes a decisive contribution to this by providing models and initiating processes that ensure the participation of potential end users and by accompanying and evaluating innovation development. The IAF uses participatory methods and can therefore help to shape the success of a new technology from the very beginning.

Living independently for longer

The IKOA is convinced that, with appropriate technological support systems, the older adults can live independently for longer. The support systems create added value and security and have a positive impact on people's quality of life.

The team of the IAF can support companies from the outset in developing their technological innovations in line with both the market and the needs of the users. The quality and validity of our research is ensured by testing and developing products with the older adults in our Living Labs on the basis of sound social science expertise, as well as by cooperating with other institutes of the OST - Ostschweizer Fachhochschule in the areas of technology and business.

The participatory approach is one of the central methods of the IAF. It has great potential, since research is not only conducted on the older adults but with them. They are involved in the development processes whenever and wherever relevant. This allows sustainable solutions to be developed that serve the interests of the older adults and actively help to meet the challenges of demographic change. In cooperation with the IAF, this information allows the economy to develop marketable products.