Diagnosis: dementia. Approximately 1.5 million people in Germany live with the disease. Circa two thirds of these individuals are cared for in their homes by family members or professional caregivers. And the numbers are growing. Due to demographic changes, this problem will be ubiquitous in Germany in the future. The goal must be to maintain the quality of life for people who have been diagnosed with dementia or similar ailments and who accordingly need in-home care or hospitalization. Precisely this is where IT applications in the Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) sector can be helpful.
Digitalization has arrived in the midst of our society and has penetrated into nearly every aspect of daily life. Information and communication technology (ICT) improves the efficiency and effectiveness of processes and has accordingly become an indispensable and essential component in the healthcare sector. This is also why, in the HealthTech category of the CODE_n16 CONTEST, CODE_n is searching for young companies that develop innovative solutions for the healthcare market.
What is AAL?
AAL spans a broad spectrum of IT-supported applications such as home automation, sensor technology and telemonitoring. The common goals of these applications are to optimally support caregivers, family members and care recipients in their daily activities, and to reduce the workload for everyone involved. Networking, technical monitoring, electronic data and automated documentation improve work processes for physicians, emergency personnel and caregivers. These applications also facilitate the exchange of data between individuals employed in different professions. The number of people who need care is expected to increase, so the AAL sector is becoming progressively more significant and attracting ever-greater investments in research and development.
AAL in practice: the I-CARE research project
AWO Karlsruhe will present its new I-CARE research project at the AAL convention, which is organized by Karlsruher Messe- und Kongress-GmbH (KMK). A technical system will be developed for tablet PCs in the context of the I-CARE project: this system records the personal needs and competencies of dementia patients and uses these data as a basis for making contents available to the affected individuals, their family members and their professional caregivers.
These activating contents include, for example, sing-along music videos, biographical photographs and quizzes focusing on various fields of interest. Sensor-based recognition of emotions (e.g. happiness, annoyance or anxiety) via automatic evaluation of facial expressions, movements and vocalizations plays an important role here. For example, the tablet PC automatically modifies the activating contents to match the personal daily condition of each individual who is in need of care. Furthermore, caregivers can contribute their assessments of the momentary situation. The system continually adapts itself to suit the needs and emotional states of people with dementia, and it also documents and evaluates the activating activities. The system will undergo further improvement through scientific evaluation of its practical usefulness in close collaboration with relatives and professional caregivers.
What does KMK offer in the AAL sector?
KMK has comprehensively focused on the strongly innovative theme of AAL for several years. With the AAL convention, KMK provides the industry and young companies with a forum for presentation and networking. “Information technology is very obviously Karlsruhe’s strength so it’s only logical that this topic is also included in KMK’s portfolio”, says Britta Wirtz, CEO of the Karlsruher Messe- und Kongress GmbH.
AAL convention on 6 October 2016: Lectures at the convention will shed light on the theme of AAL from widely diverse vantage points, e.g. consulting, nursing care, crafts or technology. The convention is accompanied by an exhibition presenting diverse products and services that support caregivers and make their day-to-day work easier.