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

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - AgeingatWork (Smart, Personalized and Adaptive ICT Solutions for Active, Healthy and Productive Ageing with enhanced Workability)

Reporting period: 2019-01-01 to 2020-06-30

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 key aspects of the project developments for the reporting period can be summarized but are not limited to 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, 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 initial version of the A@W Virtual Worker Model. Alongside, the project efforts towards the envisioned virtual workplace models have led to the formulation of a new flexible simulation framework that allows 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 initial version of the A@W middleware for data collection from diverse sources (wearables, IoT, third party apps) was developed, along with the initial 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, as the first step towards the development of the corresponding module of the A@W system.
Ambient Virtual Coach: Initial versions of the empathic avatar were developed and were used within a series of experiments that aimed to analyse a series of avatar design, emotion and personality aspects. Alongside, initial versions of the worker dashboard, aiming to provide the worker with increased self-awareness on workability, health and well-being aspects were developed. The cognitive functions of the virtual coach, as well as the Motivation & Reward system also started being researched and developed, leading to the implementation of an initial approach on the discreet (avoiding attention theft) and 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 outbreak. The first version of the A@W AR-based remote collaboration tool was researched and developed. Alongside, the first version of the A@W knowledge exchange platform has been developed, as well as of the A@W VR-based lifelong training support tool.
Age-friendly workforce management DSS: The first version of the data aggregation tool that will serve as the manager platform of the A@W system has been researched and 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. Alongside, an analysis of relevant tools and models have led to the initial definition of the model entities relevant to scheduling and planning. On top of these, an initial method to support the manager’s process scheduling efforts was developed.
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 will operate 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.