Technology can be of great assistance in leading an active and independent life. However, ICT development often fails to take into consideration the needs of some groups, such as older people and those with disabilities. The AEGIS project (Assisting the Elderly and Disabled Generation using a Behavior Modelling Intelligent System) is attempting to develop an approach in mainstream ICT that will be more accessible to these groups.

This is a large-scale project with many partners. Newcastle’s role is to explore the potential for remote monitoring technology to support healthy older people in maintaining a more independent lifestyle. The work involves a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods from social gerontology and design, and aims to establish the value of a new class of consumer product for independent living.

We have worked with around twenty-five pairs of older adults and their children; the latter group generally lived away from their parents and had children of their own. We deployed sensors in the older adults’ homes to monitor their activity and relay it to their children, using a participatory design process to both look at ways of visualising sensor data for the children so that it could be useful, and to explore the attitudes of the older people towards the sensors and the information relayed so that they would feel comfortable with the sensors being used. The sensors were designed so that they were not affected by power cuts, and were wireless, allowing them to be placed anywhere. As their purpose was to detect activity, they were placed in areas of high activity such as the kitchen.

See the AEGIS website.

Date: April 2010 – April 2011
Funding: TSB: Technology Strategy Board. £72,445
Researchers: Katie Brittain (PI) – Institute of Health & Society, Patrick Olivier (CI), Stephen LindsayMabel Lie – Institute of Health & Society.

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