Assisted Living


Pervasive healthcare at the user’s home is often referred to as assisted living, ambient assisted living or assisted cognition [16]. These terms have been used to describe systems that use sensor data to determine what current activities the user is doing while at home, and guide the user in order to solve the task more easily or safely, as well as monitor the person’s health condition. This might include reminding the user to take his medicine as prescribed, warn about a potentially too high blood pressure, or an arrhythmia of his heart – advising him to rush to the hospital or seek help.

Assisted living is really about making life easier and safer for the users and their relatives – and for extending the tools available to home nurses, general practitioners and perhaps hospitals staff or other specialist functions. For instance, a patient who is suffering from Meniere’s disease (a build-up of fluid in the inner ear) as well as having increased blood pressure, might be dependent on taking her medicine at a regular interval in order not to get dizzy and fall (perhaps breaking her hip or other bones in the process) or risking a heart attack, heart failure or stroke. An assisted living system might remind her to take her different types of medication, using visual or audio signalling, or even just telling her using speech technology. The system might have sensors able to detect her leaving her home, so that she might be reminded of taking the medicine before she leaves. Same system might also ask her to take her blood pressure at regular intervals (once or three times a day), and automatically store the data and send them to the physician she is attending for next check-up. He would be able to watch reports on how often she forgets taking her medicine, and what effect it has on her blood pressure when she does not remember to take her medication.

If we now also equip her with an accelerometer unit, we might measure her level of activity, including amount of sleep and rest. These data again goes to the physician for the monthly check-up. Same accelerometer unit might be able to detect if she falls, and stays down in case of e.g. a broken hip. And now – the system might send an SMS text to one of her relatives, or to a private surveillance company or the local community nursing facility, depending on resources available.

This vision of an assisted living system is exactly the type of system that the OpenCare Project supports and facilitates. Including the OpenCare Infrastructure that makes it easy to attach the sensors, the drivers developed for the blood pressure meter and the automatic medicine dispenser. Other supported features include the messaging and alert API for sending data to the physician and relatives and many other that will be discussed in section VI.

The OpenCare Project and Infrastructure is not a complete system for assisted living projects. It is an infrastructure which is designed to be as open and flexible as possible. It is an infrastructure for other researchers and commercial vendors to design and test prototypes, and eventually perhaps developed complete systems based on it.

Many of the ideas of the OpenCare Project are not original, and have been discussed in earlier literature. There are also some commercial systems availablefor assisted living, so the OpenCare Project is not necessarily a revolution. There are several new ideas behind the OpenCare Project, but the most important being the open source nature of the project.

In the following we will analyse related research projects and commercial products, and discuss the features, strengths and weaknesses of these, and discuss where the OpenCare Project might be better suited or not to solve the same problems.

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