Supporting the elderly at home using aware systems


  • As of July 1st 2011, the Independent@Home project has been completed. We are now organizing a closing session as part of the AmI conference (November 2011, Amsterdam). Please contact us for tickets and more information.
  • The video registration of the presentation of Martijn Vastenburg at the Web and Beyond 2010 conference in Amsterdam, entitled Connected Care: Supporting Caregivers through Awareness Displays, can be viewed online.
  • Powerpoint presentation which was presented at the IOP MMI information day in Amsterdam, October 26, 2006: download here.


    Current developments in senior home care can be characterized by three trends:
    1. Demographic ageing is becoming a major concern in The Netherlands. The number of elderly in need of care will increase, resulting in a growing pressure on care institutions. Also, there is a growing shortage of professional care personnel.
    2. There is a shift from standardized mass solutions to personalized solutions. Gradually, clients are gaining control over their individual care situation. Most people prefer to live independently, in their familiar surroundings, as long as possible. They can be supported by family members, friends, professional caretakers, and by new technology in their homes. Personal care budgets can be used to buy personalized care services; care clients can subscribe to a set of care services specific to their individual needs.
    3. Although there are more and more technological solutions available for creating personalized solutions for supporting elderly at home, there is no unified design approach for user-system interaction. Typically, each device has its own interface and usability is minimal. Most appliances communicate with the user at the function rather than task level.

    Towards deployment of personalized home care services, industry identified interaction related obstacles:

    1. Technology centered, non-integrated solutions are available. However, these components are not integrated into a single, simple to use, client-centered and recognizable system.
    2. Current user interfaces for information communication technology, are generally complex and inherently difficult to use, especially for elderly users.

    Project goal

    The primary project goal was to develop an integrated user interface for task-level control of communication and home automation facilities, instead of a functional based integrated system. The elderly-targeted interface and interaction concepts will be used to create personalized assisted living services that fit into everyday life, in close collaboration with industry and home care service providers (thuiszorginstellingen), and will be extensively tested in users homes.

    A central home calendar interaction metaphor will be developed that monitors and supports elderly in their daily routines. Detection of routines based on user input and system awareness will help trigger home care services and task level dialogue at the appropriate moments with the users. A research through design approach will be followed, based on iterative development and early prototypes in the field.


    The research will take place at Delft University of Technology, Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, Social and Contextual Interaction Design Group, in close collaboration with Isolectra, Department Care Solutions and Hogeschool Rotterdam. The project is embedded in the Technology for Care consortium.