A new international network launched to bridge the gap between research and market-ready innovation
A new living lab designed for AAL projects is being launched at the AAL Forum 2016. The IBH Living Lab AAL is a new international network of universities, social services and technology providers who are collaborating to facilitate active and assisted living for people who feel excluded from social and economic life due to physical or psychological restraints associated with ageing. The group is looking to assist these people by developing individually customised ambient technologies designed to support and enhance the work of professional and informal carers.
The IBH Living Lab AAL will offer a holistic infrastructure for research and development in the area of active, assisted living (AAL), so that innovation and evaluation can take place in real-life settings ensuring they meet the needs of all stakeholders and end users.
Living labs are seen as key testbeds for AAL innovation, ensuring products and services being developed by AAL projects not only meet the needs of those they are designed to help, but do so in such a way that they are commercially viable – people will want to buy them. As such, the “living lab” approach not only takes into account the technical environment and the psycho-physiological aspects of the end users but also cultural, organisational, legal, and market-relevant aspects of the ageing society.
The network is seen as a best practice example of collaborative working for AAL, with all its activities being located in the area surrounding Lake Constance and under the lead of a university of the “Internationale Bodenseehochschule” (IBH), which is an association of universities from Germany, Liechtenstein, Austria, and Switzerland.
“We want to initiate a cross-border, interdisciplinary research and innovation network around the Lake Constance region,” explains Sabina Misoch of FHSG, one of the coordinating universities. “We want to build up living labs to test innovations for the eldery to help them to live longer and more independently at home.
“To do this, it is absolutely vital that we at the Interdisciplinary Competence Centre for Ageing at FHS St.Gallen (IKOA-FHS) integrate a participatory approach that will enhance technology acceptance amongst the target groups by involving them in the whole developmental process.”
The members of IBH Living Lab AAL have agreed to a four-year work plan:
- To network the AAL solutions among themselves, in order to increase the efficiency of support
- To provide decision-relevant information about reliable AAL solutions
- To evaluate new AAL solutions for the purpose of an evidence-based launch
- To elaborate AAL business and financing models
- To offer municipal advisory services for the implementation and financing of AAL solutions
- To provide panel people in the Lake Constance region, who agree to participate in AAL studies
- To transfer knowledge for professionals from different disciplines
- To increase public awareness of AAL as an integrated concept for future care
“Living labs offer a great chance for innovations to enter the market because they test technologies in a real life environment, and involve end-users at an early stage,” continues Sabina Misoch. “The results of their everyday use are important for researchers and industry, because they provide valuable insight into technology acceptance and technology use.”
The aim of the project is to integrate lessons learned from previous projects in this field and to build up a broad network of universities, with each participating institution bringing in special knowledge, which is needed for successful AAL products and services.
“The IKOA-FHS is currently developing a living lab in eastern Switzerland, which will consist of 20 private households to provide a test and development environment for AAL innovations,” explains Sabina Misoch further. “We are currently building up an expanded network of households and will begin pilot testing an AAL product in January, 2017.
“The project will illustrate the challenges, risks, problems and benefits of testing innovations in living labs as opposed to using conventional laboratories, where researchers are only able to detect short-term impacts,” she continues. “We will analyse user barriers and enhance acceptance by using a participatory approach and this is a great opportunity for the AAL industry.”
- You will be able to find out more about the IBH Living Labs AAL at the Forum and visit them in the exhibition hall.