SOPRANO Conference

Last week I was at the SOPRANO Conference, which presents results of our AAL Integrated Project SOPRANO to the interested public. It was colocated with the fair on home automation Beurs Domotica & Slim Wonen at Eindhoven. Apart from the key SOPRANO contributions, we had presentations from the European Commission on their strategy of facilitating the development and deployment of AAL solutions (Peter Wintlev- Jensen), on general acceptance issues by Heidrun Mollenkopf (BAGSO) on ethical aspects of AAL research (by Marjo Rauhala from Vienna), and from the PERSONA project. It really has given a good overview of the current state of research, and the open issues. Particularly the lack of deployment was addressed as part of the panel discussion. There were several opinions on this:

  • Lack of societal awareness about the problems that demand for AAL solutions (we will not be able to deliver care in the same way as today as there will be many more older people than now). This leads to a lack of political support.
  • Lack of awareness by the immediate carers about the possibilities, availability, and cost/benefits of AAL solutions and potentially threatening change of the role of the carer
  • Too high a pace of innovation, which leads to hesistant investments
  • Immaturity of the technology as to practical usability and cost effectiveness
  • Lack of direct end customer approach (start with the more prosperous as early adopters)

Probably it is a mixture of all of it, but I found particularly the first one convincing as it changes the perspective: we now longer ask what added-value this technology can deliver in addition to care services and informal carers, but we ask how can we keep up a similar level of care for a much larger number of older people with fewer younger carers.