Active assisted living for everyone

At different times in life, people may wish to improve their well-being or require diverse levels of assistance. This could mean enhancing home comforts with smart heating and cooling systems or using intelligent solutions to help carry out daily activities if a person becomes incapacitated for a period of time.

As the home environment becomes more connected and people use an increasing number of smart devices and services, such as alarm and entertainment systems, there is a need to ensure the interoperability and safety of these.

Active assisted living products and services aim to enhance the lives of people with disabilities by helping them to live independently in their homes and assisting with daily activities.

AAL products and services have never been more relevant than now, as we continue to adapt to new ways of living and working during the COVID-19 pandemic. At times, lockdown safety measures limit personal movement and access to services which would normally be delivered outside the home. As a result, companies are developing more and more products and services that can be used in homes.

One such example is virtual or online convenience-based fitness and wellness services. Users access a trainer or instructor online in their homes, instead of visiting a fitness facility. This booming industry is expected to reach at USD 59,231 million by 2027, according to alliedmarketresearch.com.

The IEC Systems Committee for active assisted living (SyC AAL) was established to promote safety, security, privacy and cross-vendor interoperability in the use of AAL services, through the development of international standards.

It brings together many stakeholders, including developers, manufacturers and suppliers, medical device and pharma companies and more recently technology companies, as well as regulators and policy makers, so as to ensure the products and systems developed for AAL users and health service providers are safe and follow regulations.

SyC AAL develops diverse standards with IEC technical committees and other standards development organizations to address these aspects. For example, this year it published a Technical Specification for AAL use cases (IEC TS 63134), which identifies AAL scenarios and use cases based on real-world applications and requirements. The use cases provide a practical context for considerations of interoperability and standards based on user experience.

It has also published a Systems Reference Deliverable (SRD) framework for the evaluation of AAL services (IEC SRD 63234-1), which provides a descriptive framework and template for the economic evaluation of the implementation of technology-supported home healthcare or wellness services, or AAL services that support communications, transportation, etc. as defined in a series of AAL use cases.

Several standards under development include one for cooperative multiple systems in connected home environments - AAL functional safety requirements of electronic safety-related systems with four parts which will cover, general requirements for design and development, concept phase of product design, product development, and production, operation, modification and supporting process.

Another considers the functional performance criteria for robots used in AAL connected home environment and an SRD which contains AAL requirements for education and training of persons working in the field of AAL.

Looking further ahead, we are considering ethics in the AAL environment and further safety aspects beyond AAL functional safety in connected home environment.

Ulrike Haltrich, Chair IEC Systems Committee for active assisted living (SyC AAL)