Fulfilling the needs of elderly people is an imperative problem in most Western societies. The progressive ageing of the population and the need to provide better services to a larger number of users presents an important challenge because, in spite of the increase of resources, the autorities are unable to cope with the exponential increase of the demand. There is general consensus about the fact that the best way to improve this situation is the progressive introduction of technical aids to allow users achieve a more independent life. However those services still suffer from poor levels of efficiency and quality due to the intensive use of manpower and the low penetration of information technologies.
On the other hand, senior citizens frequently have difficulties to make use of the advances in our modern information society technology, mostly because, among other reasons, it requires that they need to learn from scratch how to use some sort of specific terminal. Also, senior citizens do not perceive the benefits of the big effort required to learn how to use these new mechanisms. Elderly users demand specially designed interfaces that are: simple, affordable, always ready, integrate easily in their living environment and offer a single access point for all services.
In order to cope with these difficulties, the VITAL project proposes a combination of advanced information and communication technologies that uses a familiar device like the TV as the main vehicle for the delivery of services to elderly users in home environments. Conversely the project use standard mobile phones for applications on the run. The new services offer will depart from traditional assistance schemes in the sense that it is not oriented to satisfying day to day subsistence needs but it considers other important demands that has deserved little attention up to the moment, such as: the need for information, the need for inter-personal communication, the need for personal advice, the need for edutainment, the need to be able to move safely in the physical environment and the need to integrate into the mainstream society. One of the strong points of the project is the possibility to empower elderly users to take care of themselves, with the necessary assistance, and to get access to information and infrastructures that are currently banned for them. The project is also meant to encourage and serve users that are willing to achieve an active life inside or outside their home environment.
At a Glance
Name: Vital Assistance For The Elderly
Short name: VITAL
Type: Specific Targeted Research Project (STREP)
Call Identifier: FP6-2005-IST-5
Contract No.: 030600
Duration: 01.01.2007 - 30.09.2010
Project Management: German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI)
Community Financial Contribution: 2.1 M Euro