Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


RADIO Report Summary

Project ID: 643892
Funded under: H2020-EU.3.1.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - RADIO (Robots in assisted living environments: Unobtrusive, efficient, reliable and modular solutions for independent ageing)

Reporting period: 2015-04-01 to 2016-03-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Demographic and epidemiologic transitions have brought a new health care paradigm with the presence of both growing elderly population and chronic diseases. People live longer but in some cases these years are spent with chronic illnesses. This has a great impact to both the quality of life of older people and to the public expenditure for Long Term Care. At the same time, low staffing ratios bring an economic and quality struggle to Institutional Care.

Although the aforementioned implications of ageing impose societal challenges, at the same time technical advancements in ICT, including robotics, bring new opportunities for the ageing population of Europe, the healthcare systems, as well as the European companies providing relevant technology and services at the global scale.

In RADIO, we develop an integrated smart home and assistant robot system, pursuing a novel approach to user acceptance and unobtrusiveness. The smart home automations and robot sensors primarily accommodate the user’s needs. Activities of Daily Living (ADL) and mood are recorded while the user interacts with the system. In this way, the medical observation sensors become an obvious, yet discrete and accepted, part of the user’s daily life.

In pursuing this, the project’s objectives are:

1. To develop methods for detecting the ADL and mood conditions that are pertinent for detecting early symptoms of cognitive impairment; frailty, and social exclusion, and to compare them against what can be achieved by more obtrusive setups (that affect quality of life of primary end users) or by placing the burden of constant monitoring on their care givers.

2. To place the robot as the central focus of interaction for a whole range of automations offered by the smart home, besides the assistance offered by the robot itself. This enhances acceptance of the robot’s sensing equipment as a necessary part of the robot’s functionality.

3. To design end-user interfaces having in mind usability and especially by elderly people with minimal prior exposure to consumer electronics.

4. To base the design on existing reliable, safe, and low-cost robotic and home automation solutions, without requiring specialized sensing or other hardware.

5. To embed recognition methods in hardware sensing and processing components, which form a modular system that can be deployed in different configurations and mixes of components without requiring extensive effort or specialized knowledge for reconfiguration.

6. To evaluate how well the RADIO-provided information can serve the purpose of detecting early symptoms of cognitive impairment, so that admissions and days spent in care institutions for precautionary reasons can be drastically reduced.

7. To integrate individual home deployments into a wide area network of RADIO home deployments, medical institutions, and mobile devices of informal care givers; into an information transmission and management system that is by design scalable and secure and privacy-preserving.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

"The work performed during the first reporting period aimed at accomplishing the first two milestones of the project; "Project setup and usability trials of existing solutions", and "Requirements and first architectural design of the single home system".

As a first step, RADIO defined the detailed characteristics of the target group to participate in RADIO action’s studies. This was used as a basis for planning RADIO’s first pilot study as well as to prepare the clinical protocols submitted by the clinical partners to their respective competent authorities. Ethics approvals have now been obtained for all RADIO pilot studies.

Usability trials of existing solutions were conducted in the framework of the Formative Phase pilot study at Fondazione Santa Lucia premises. The goal of the study was to test the usability of Sensing & Control's EnControl Graphical User Interface (GUI) when controlling basic Smart Home functionalities. The set-up of the study included basic Smart Home automations, such as light controls. The study was completed successfully and showed that the EnControl GUI was overall well-accepted by elderly users, making it an ideal basis for the RADIO GUI. Some improvements were required though, concerning mainly functional and appearance aspects. The first RADIO GUI prototype, integrating Smart Home and robot control functionalities, was developed in a way that satisfies these requirements for the needs of the Intermediate Phase pilot study to be carried out during the second reporting period.

A considerable workload during the first reporting period was spent on deriving the various requirements that should be satisfied to have a system that collects information pertinent to detecting early symptoms of cognitive impairment; frailty, and social exclusion, in a way that is unobtrusive yet reliable. The first review of early detection methods and necessary system actuation was conducted early upon action’s initiation and led to setting clinically-oriented functional requirements. As a basis of our work, we assumed the interRAI Long-Term Care Facilities Assessment System (interRAI LTCF, that enables comprehensive, standardized evaluation of the needs, strengths, and preferences of persons receiving short-term post-acute care in skilled nursing facilities as well as persons living in chronic care and nursing home institutional setting. The specific items of interRAI LTCF that are applicable to profile of target group users were then identified and their source of monitoring (background information, observation, personal interview, or other) was defined.

Along with medical requirements (interRAI items), actual and perceived privacy considerations and ethical issues were also extensively studied, leading to requirements that the system must satisfy to fulfil its unobtrusiveness objective. Moreover, having set the medical requirements, the recognition methods to be extended and adapted in order to extract the assessment items were also identified.

In some cases, the defined medical requirements (interRAI items) can be potentially obtrusive, both because of the nature of the item (e.g. using the toilet) and because of the recording method (camera). To keep the balance between medical requirements and obtrusiveness, interRAI items that could be potentially intrusive, were identified and further commented on the type of information (from the technical perspective) that would be necessary to monitor them adequately.

The RADIO Home was designed during this reporting period, as well as how multiple RADIO Homes, healthcare institutions, and care-giver devices interconnect in an overall RADIO ecosystem. Specifically, the conceptual architecture of the RADIO Home specified how the processing elements executing the recognition components are integrated with the sensing elements (including smart home and robot-mounted sensors). Moreover, the work performed on the physical architecture specified the wireless communications architecture between the mobile robot platform and the Smart Home devices that make up each RADIO Home, as well as, the architecture of the heterogeneous computing elements of the RADIO Home, including the central server, FPGAs, and the on-board robot controller. The overall RADIO ecosystem of communicating RADIO Homes, care givers, and care institutions, was also designed in a way that:

a) allows only relevant information to be shared and ensures the security of private data and extracted information;

b) can scale to a large number of RADIO Home deployments managed by a single care institution;

c) can handle heterogeneity in communication technologies and hardware and software components.

All the aforementioned work has led in having a having set a plan for the Intermediate Phase pilot study that is going to test and evaluate the first RADIO prototype.

To sum up, the work performed during the first reporting period complied to the first two milestones of the action and resulted in:

a) Successful completion of the usability studies that provided the design requirements for RADIO’s GUI and RADIO user’s GUI development

b) Defining the clinically-oriented functional requirements, ethical/obtrusiveness requirements and the guidelines on defining the recognition methods to monitor the clinical items of interest that can satisfy clinical purposes without compromising unobtrusiveness.

c) Developing the conceptual and physical architecture of the RADIO Home, as well as the architecture of the overall RADIO ecosystem."

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

In order to develop a system that is a sound solution for recognizing functional activity patterns, acting as a first step towards an alternative solution to hospitalization, RADIO action started off by describing the characteristics of the primary end-users and setting initial medical requirements. Medical requirements were based in well recognised geriatric assessment tools. Based on these requirements WP3 develops and prototypes methods for recognizing ADL and mood. The design of the individual methods and the overall recognition system emphasises privacy, modularity, efficiency, and robustness.

In order to enable a wider deployment of ICT based solutions for Active and Healthy Ageing and thus allowing EU citizens to carry independent lives for longer, RADIO focuses on user acceptance and unobtrusiveness. In this framework an extensive analysis of obtrusiveness dimensions aims at user acceptance and also at developing a system that respects individual preferences and promotes dignity.

RADIO investigated how to bridge the gap between medical requirements and obtrusiveness considering individual preferences. A framework was established that organises the choices that need to be made and assigns obtrusiveness indices to what is technically possible. This will enable making informed decisions about what technical solutions are needed for each given end-user, and also provides insights about which technical advancements will have the most impact.
Furthermore, the usability study conducted during the first reporting period aimed at testing an existing user interface so that we can successfully design Graphical User Interfaces that are usable by elderly, possibly with little prior exposure to relevant technologies. At the same time, this enables larger penetration of technology-based solutions.

RADIO also reviewed sociological, ethical, and gender. Legal aspects of RADIO are also considered in terms of satisfying the guidelines of several directives in term of private data preservation. Moreover, all equipment used at this stage is certified and the whole set-up is approved from ethics committees to be used in all different pilot environments.

Towards enhancing the competitiveness of EU industry through business and expansion in new markets, RADIO develops a solution that is both scalable and transferable. Architectural and methodological work in WP5 ensures that multiple RADIO Homes and care-givers can be interconnected in a scalable and secure ecosystem, including RADIO Homes integrating different key enabling technologies and addressing different societal needs and health problems.

Moreover, architectural and methodological work in RADIO provides heterogeneous networking solutions for bridging the robotic and the smart home network infrastructures and software stacks. This work aims at integrated, secure, and power-aware data collection, transmission and processing within an internet of fixed sensors and mobile robotic platforms. During the first year, prominent Wireless Sensor Network technologies have been evaluated so that they can work complementary to each other in different scenarios effectively exploiting aggregate advantages while minimizing shortcoming of specific technologies to specific scenarios. Therefore, as a whole, the RADIO communication infrastructure will provide critical advantages compared to any already existing solution based on a single solution, in terms of coverage area, energy consumption as well as traffic capacity. In addition, the design agreed upon during this year assures extensibility to any new and upcoming short range, ultra-low power protocol. Furthermore, the RADIO communication infrastructure can take advantage of a much wider market of sensor modalities and vendors compared to any other solution. This drastically enhances the usefulness, flexibility and adaptability of the proposed infrastructure to diverse use case scenarios; significantly reducing future deployment costs by remaining independent of any specific sensor/technologies provider.

In order to apply in practice the basic concepts of RADIO, NCSR-D and TWG have developed two realistic environments for applying and evaluating RADIO technology: a smart room at NCSR-D and an Ambient Assisted Living House, which is a fully equipped 60 sq.m residence, at TWG premises. The RADIO technology has drawn significant interest from companies specialized in smart home and ambient assisted living technologies, which have contributed, in both cases, as sponsors. Among the sponsoring companies are Siemens, ABB, Dialog, CISCO, Embedded Systems and FUJITSU.

The latter is considered especially important for RADIO since on one hand it exposes RADIO technology to key technology players and advocates future collaborations, while on the other hand it allows RADIO ecosystem to operate in collaboration with complementary technologies and products offered by the specific companies, which have significant portion of the worldwide market.

Finally, RADIO partners participate to various dissemination events. In dedicated scientific venues RADIO promoted the scientific results of the project so far. Moreover, through various events targeted to the general public, the partners promoted the idea of RADIO environment, the societal challenges that urge the development of Ambient Assisted Living solutions and pursued to familiarize lay people with the idea of automatic medical monitoring.

Related information

Record Number: 190275 / Last updated on: 2016-11-14