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Smart, Personalized and Adaptive ICT Solutions for Active, Healthy and Productive Ageing with enhanced Workability

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - AgeingatWork (Smart, Personalized and Adaptive ICT Solutions for Active, Healthy and Productive Ageing with enhanced Workability)

Reporting period: 2020-07-01 to 2021-12-31

As the world population is ageing, the issues of workforce ageing and shrinkage, as well as their implications to companies in Europe and worldwide gain ever-increasing importance. ICT-mHealth can help to support workability and quality of life of the ageing workforce. In this line, Ageing@Work aims at the research and development of advanced, personalized ICT services to support ageing workers, primarily focusing on people aged 50+, into maintaining their workability, productivity and well-being as they age.
The project starts with developing virtual models of workers that incorporate specificities in respect to skills, physical, cognitive and behavioral factors, being extended from the work context to personal life aspects interacting with workability, health and well-being. Alongside, virtual workplace models are being developed to encode characteristics of the workplace (factory, outdoor work site, home), at both physical and semantic, resource/process levels. On this basis, a series of advanced ICT tools are being researched and developed, aiming to help into assessing worker specificities and needs and provide personalized recommendations and support on workability and quality of life. These tools include: (a) unobtrusive and privacy preserving worker activity and behaviour sensing, (b) personalized work ergonomics and process design support services, (c) an ambient virtual coach, aiming at joint productivity and life support recommendations provision, (d) workability and productivity enhancement tools based on Virtual and Augmented Reality, AI and Visual Analytics, including an age-friendly AR-based remote collaboration tool, a lifelong training support tool and a knowledge sharing and collaboration platform and (d) decision support tools for managers and OSH specialists to help them into age-friendly workforce management. Once developed, these tools will be fused within the integrated Ageing@work system and will be evaluated by the end of the project at two pilot sites, related to core Industry 4.0 processes of mining and machines production.
For more information on the Ageing@Work project, please visit: https://ageingatwork-project.eu/
The main results achieved by the project so far can be summarized in the following points:

Definition of the Ageing@Work system requirements, use cases and architecture
The outcome of this process led to the definition of the prioritized list of the Ageing@Work system requirements and use cases, which serve as the core guide to the project’s user-centred design RnD efforts. On this basis, the Ageing@Work system architecture was defined and further elaborated in the course of the project, analysing in detail the system’s functional requirements and breaking accordingly the overall, conceptual system architecture into well-defined, specific, subordinate functional modules and components.

Worker and workplace models
An extensive analysis on factors related to work ability, quality of life, productivity of ageing employees was performed, through literature review, along with questionnaires, surveys, focus groups and personal interviews with employees in the two pilot sites (ANEFA, SIEMENS). On this basis, metrics and tools to measure factors related to work ability, quality of life and productivity in ageing employees were formulated, as well as the A@W Virtual Worker Model, which includes simulation-based predictive elements. Alongside, the project efforts towards the envisioned virtual workplace models allow to simulate different workplaces and actions, add semantics, and create individual scenarios in remote or domestic workplaces, offering also VR support.

Unobtrusive activity and behaviour sensing framework
Following a comprehensive analysis of worker activity and behaviour aspects of interest for monitoring from the A@W system, the A@W middleware for data collection from diverse sources (wearables, IoT, third party apps) has been developed, along with the project methods for the unobtrusive detection of activities of interest from these sources. Moreover, a detailed analysis of data privacy and security issues was performed, leading to the development of the corresponding module of the A@W system.

Ambient Virtual Coach
The empathic avatar of the A@W virtual coach has been developed; it has been used within a series of experiments that aimed to analyse avatar design, emotion and personality aspects. Alongside, the worker dashboard, aiming to provide the worker with increased self-awareness on workability, health and well-being aspects has been developed. The cognitive functions of the virtual coach, as well as the Motivation & Reward system have also been researched and developed, leading to the implementation of the persuasive behaviour of the coach, based on the completion of recommended activities, location context and user’s personality.

Age-friendly productivity enhancement tools
Emphasis was given on project tools that can support ageing workers into remote collaboration, while working from home; an aspect that gained ever-increasing significance during the Covid-19 pandemic. The A@W AR-based remote collaboration tool was researched and developed. Alongside, the A@W knowledge exchange platform has been developed, as well as the A@W VR-based lifelong training support tool and the A@W AR-based tool to increase the ageing worker’s context awareness.

Research and development of the Ageing@Work age-friendly workforce management DSS
The data aggregation tool that serves as the manager platform of the A@W system has been developed. The tool allows the manager to overview aspects related to the factory process modelling and management, with emphasis on issues related to the ageing workers and enables bi-directional communication at the core of the scheduling, while including an optimization-based schedule recommender system, to support the manager’s efforts.
The key innovation points of the project can be summarized as follows:
- Advanced virtual worker models, coupling workability, health and quality of life aspects, along with virtual workplace models enabling ergonomics and process design assessment.
- An ambient virtual coach to support the ageing worker, encompassing an empathic mirroring avatar, a dashboard empowered with visual analytics and a reward-based motivation system. The virtual coach operates on the basis of the A@W framework for unobtrusive monitoring of worker activity and behaviour factors related to workability, health and well-being.
- Advanced tools to support ageing worker’s productivity, including AR and VR based remote collaboration and lifelong training tools, as well as a knowledge exchange platform.
- An advanced platform to support managers and OSH experts into age-friendly workforce management.

By the end of the project, the Ageing@Work system, integrating the above elements, will be demonstrated in the two pilot sites of the project, validating its capability to support (a) ageing workers into maintaining crucial aspects related to their productivity and well-being as they age and (b) managers and OSH experts into the co-design of age-friendly work environments and flexible process schedules.
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