AAL Smart Ageing Challenge Prize Finalists – Anne.
Anne: Your personal assistant
The caring face of the Internet of Things
Anne is a virtual personal assistant developed in the Netherlands, who uses the power of the internet to help care for the elderly at home. Now, the friendly computer face that is able to hold a conversation, carry out simple commands and remind you to do certain tasks like call your family, has been nominated for a major award, funded by the EU, for the most innovative system that uses the Internet of Things (IoT).
The prestigious award is the first ever Active and Assisted Living (AAL) Smart Ageing Challenge Prize, which is awarding €50,000 for the best product or idea that uses IoT to empower older adults to achieve the quality of life to which they aspire, socially and independently.
The IoT is already having a huge impact on just about every aspect of our lives, so applying it to the ever-growing need for care for the elderly makes perfect sense. People are living longer, with one in five of us now expected to live until 100 years old. But as our population gets older, more people are living with long-term health conditions and experience some form of disability, so require care or assistance at home.
Meanwhile, it is becoming more important for the elderly who choose to live at home to remain active and healthy, enabling them to live full and rewarding lives and remain connected to their friends and family and to society as a whole.
Traditionally, formal carers or friends and family have provided care for older people living at home. Anne is not looking to replace this care, but simply support it and provide an extension to what is already available, helping older people live independently at home for longer. Anne also provides companionship for those living alone, not only by providing a connection to the world outside the home but by being able to do simple tasks like read the news or talk about the weather.
But the real genius of Anne is that she is a computer system that adapts to the needs to the person using her. Rather than delivering a pre-defined set of services, the personal assistant will only deliver the services that match the preferences and needs of the end-user. These include communication by telephone, screen calls, email or reading the local news, as well as carrying out simple functions like opening the curtains for locking the doors.
Another major benefit of such a system is that informal carers can be unburdened with the use of a personal assistant and so reduce their workload, while more urgent work of formal carers can be prioritised.
15 entrants from a healthy total of 200 were shortlisted for the Smart Ageing Challenge Prize and these finalists attended a special Innovation Academy in Brussels in July, where their ideas were further scrutinised by the judges and where they also received advice on how their ideas can be further commercialised for what is a massively growing market.
Karin Weiss, Deputy Managing Director and Head of Grants at the AGE Foundation and one of the competition judges, said: “We were delighted by the variety of entries we received. We saw many interesting solutions and were particularly impressed by the approach taken to bridging the gap between the older and younger generations, as well as the approach to stabilising the quality of life at home for older people.
“The challenge now is to identify a winner that is exciting, commercially viable and close to the edge of the market,” she adds. “We want to see the prize being used to connect this potential with investors, refining the prototypes and creating impetus to get the solution to market.”
A huge amount of work is being done in the Netherlands in the sector and, with people like the designers behind Anne already engaged in developing solutions designed to increase the quality of life for older people, hopes are high that this simple, smart solution will pick up the top prize when it is announced at the AAL Forum, being held at St Gallen, Switzerland, in September.
For more information about the AAL and the AAL Forum, visit: https://www.aalforum.eu/