Smart Home

The ageing of the population will, undoubtably, be a major challenge in the coming years: in Europe, the number of elderly persons (aged 65 and over) will go from 61 million in 2000 to 103 million in 2050. During this timeframe, the number of very elderly persons (aged 80 and over) will triple. According to the Federal Planning Bureau, the ageing of the Belgian population will intensify until 2040. Therefore, society needs to be ready to face a situation in which nearly a third of the population will be over 65 and a tenth of the population will be over 80 years old. Following the latest forecast, in 2040, 273,000 people will be over 65 and 63,000 over 80 years old in Brussels.

The current system where elderly persons live in retirement homes or in assisted living facilities is neither financially nor logistically viable in this context. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to encourage progress and innovation for the care of elderly people. In the coming years, the type of care given to seniors must radically change into more of a home support service (assisted daily living), leaving assisted living facilities behind.

The “Smart and Social Home Care” project aims to develop a type of care for elderly persons who wish to remain in their homes by coordinating the activities of the different actors of their social and care circles. This project is financed by Innoviris and is jointly led by the ORM, the ICTEAM and two private partners. The Vitadomi solution combines systems of smart home automation, 24/7 assistance and alarm systems, services and means of communication with their medical carers, their family, their neighbours, and other carers. These solutions combine technology, public health and social sciences and can help tackle two major problems related to at home care: social withdrawal and the need for assistance and security.

This is a multidisciplinary research project with specialists from social sciences and 'Smart' environments (UCLouvain), software development and integration (Electronic Design International) and data sharing and security (Sirris). In practice, the project includes conducting interviews prior to the deployment of test prototype solutions in collaboration with home care organisations. The prototypes and experiences of everyday life will be evaluated as the project goes on. The solution developed will be respectful of personal and sensitive data sharing of the elderly and of their security.

The ORM and MiiL contribute by assessing how the information is shared through the care system and by appraising the problems linked to the management of personal information and of the data that will be stoked in blockchain systems (with technology to be developed by ICTEAM). Grégoire Lits and Amélie Anciaux will be responsible for the evaluation of social acceptability in which the perceptions and the expectations of the system’s users will be studied. They will also identify how the system is used and asses the concerns of the elderly persons and their helper’s network that may arise if the system is implemented in their lives. Following this, a case study about the usage of technologies in situations of daily assisted living will be set up. This study will also consist of interviews with the elderly people concerned and their care network. This study will contribute to the understanding of the social aspects of the projects, considering the contribution of social and technological sciences and the sociology of the social usage of information technologies.

In the light of the recent health crisis but also of debates around the concerns of respectful sharing of personal data and security, this project will undoubtably introduce innovative and transdisciplinary advances linked to current social issues.

Promoters of the project:

  • Rudy Cruysbergs (Electronic Design International),
  • Prof Etienne Rivière (ICTEAM),
  • Prof Axel Legay (ICTEAM),
  • Prof Grégoire Lits (SSH/ILC/PCOM)
  • Dr Ananda Rath (Software Engineering Group)

The researchers:

  • Rudy Cruysbergs, Owner
  • Alexandre Beyens, CTO
  • Prof Etienne Rivière, ICTEAM
  • Prof Axel Legay, ICTEAM
  • Prof Grégoire Lits, SSH/ILC/PCOM
  • Igor Zavalyshyn, ICTEAM
  • Dr Amélie Anciaux, SSH/ILC/PCOM
  • Dr Annanda Rath, Software Engineering Group
  • Wim Codenie, Software Engineering Group