- about us
1. Living Lab description
Thess-AHALL, operational since 2014, and a unique setting in the city of Thessaloniki, Central Macedonia region (Northern Greece). The lab fosters initiatives encouraging regional development and healthcare systems sustainability by the provision of novel technologies and innovation. The lab is actively engaged with the end-users and relevant community stakeholders, actively pursuing co-creation and co-design of technological solutions to improve health and social conditions and facilitate independent living. The main goal is to facilitate the ultimate aim of speeding up innovation, collaboration, development and testing of more accurate services, which is achieved by the early involvement of users as co-creators.
The lab’s main strengths lie with the operation in actual community settings and residences following a paradigm of actual in-the-wild collection and processing of data, offerring ecological validity schemes, a strategic geographical location and a wide, trans-national network with strong collaboration capacity with the Active and Healthy Ageing (AHA) ecosystem in Greece and the Balkan region and along experience in user driven innovation and evidence-based research in the AHA domain. The underlying Big Data infrastructure with the existence of big and heterogeneous volumes of data stemming from the large scale pilots with seniors puts ThessAHALL in a pivotal position. Finally, Thess-AHALL aims to develop a business plan for self-sustainability, in line with the ENoLL’s strategy, facilitating the people demand with the active involvement of SMEs within pilots.
The Thess-AHALL is governed by the Laboratory of Medical Physics, School of Medicine, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki which has essentially spinned-off two commercial entities: the self-funded (University based) initiative LLM Care and Neuroanadrasi which was founded by members of the Lab based on exploiting the neuroscientific capacity of the Lab. Apart from the involvment of exernal SMEs and research groups, Thess-AHALL has also built strong collaborations with nursing homes, daily care centres, municipalities, Regional Health Authorities of Attica and Central Macedonia, Elderly care centres of the Greek Federation of Alzheimer's Associations (some 20 units, spread throughout Greece).
So far, the Living Lab has its own research budget and resources coming from active and ongoing projects. These projects are funded in the European initiatives (FP7, H2020), cross border (Interreg), regional (SME Actions), as well as self-funded projects exploiting and commercializing a product which matured within the Living Lab (LLMCare - http://www.llmcare.gr), the FitForAll exergaming application for seniors (http://www.fitforall.gr/play/app). Most of the projects hosted by the Thess-AHALL (e.g. USEFIL, UNCAP, iPrognosis) aim to build standard middleware in the Active and Healthy Ageing domain by introducing innovative infrastructures for cost-effective creation and delivery of services, providing high QoS. In May 2014 the Living Lab environment was built and supported the USEFIL (https://www.usefil.eu/) (2011-2015) project pilot trials with 15 seniors as well as key technological/research experiments of the STHENOS project (www.sthenos.gr). As an objective of the USEFIL project, apart from its primary target for creating an integrated unobtrusive smart home environment towards independent living support of elderly people, the infrastructure of the living lab was tranferred and deployed to 5 houses of lone-living seniors. Thess-AHALL experimented and assessed the user acceptance and friendliness of the devices and applications adopted in the Living Lab compared to their monitoring value. The seniors’ feedback, when using USEFIL in their daily living, affected the evolution and further development of the individual components as well as the requirements elicitation for 3 new H2020 projects.
The H2020 UNCAP project (http://www.uncap.eu/) (2015-2018) aims at delivering an interoperable platform based on open industrial standards, leveraging on existing technologies for biosensing, indoor/outdoor localisation and home-automation with most of them relying on the IoT approach. AUTH participates in the UNCAP project as a core pilot partner responsible for conducting different exergaming interventions which will be designed and trialed out for a specific period of time involving 200 elderly user. In the realm of UNCAP, more than 60 participants are expected to participate in the Thess-AHALL pilot trials where apart from the exergaming session, activities of daily living will be also tested.
Thess-AHALL will also be utilized for the acceptance evaluation of a system targeting to people suffering from Parkinson within the realm of the H2020 iPrognosis project (http://www.i-prognosis.eu/) (2016-2020). i-PROGNOSIS will employ machine learning algorithms to learn from user’s interaction data with everyday technology in order to achieve early Parkinson’s disease detection. From smartphones and fitness bands, to smart connected everyday utilities and serious games, i-PROGNOSIS will employ latest technology upon which it will build its Parkinson’s disease early detection tests and supportive interventions.
Finally, the Living Lab will support selected key technological develoments of the H2020 SmokeFreeBrain project (www.smokefreebrain.eu) which focuses on technology assisted and neuroscience based smoking cessation ideas.
3. Living Lab methods and tools:
In the Thess-AHALL, a large number of users interact with new products and services in their daily life. From the demonstration to the pilots in the ecologically valid environment of AHALL and then in their homes, real-life settings are essential in the participatory design within co-creation. Our Living Lab set-up in the University consists of a living-room space, a bathroom-like space and a hall-kitchen space, all in the same room. The infrastructure of the Living Lab is selected to be aligned with a wide range of standard infrastructure, scientific and operational procedures adopted by the majority of pilots running across Europe, as well as globally, with respect to product/services development for AHA. The most common scenario involves elderly people who are visiting the room and go through some daily tasks and short exergaming sessions. Apart from the pilot datasets produced by the multimodal capture and recording through the infrastructure (Kinect RGB and Skeleton, smart watch, emotion, wireless EEG-optional, interaction with apps through tablet, etc.), psychologists and researchers are regularly collecting and sharing the user feedback, as well as findings from systematic observation, monitoring and user behaviour analysis in a natural environment. Moreover, being and feeling co-creators rather than just participants in experiments, the seniors provide us with self-monitoring reports of their daily activities (paper and pen). Replicating part to the living lab’s infrastructure to lone-living seniors’ homes and a nursing home, Thess-AHALL is extended beyond the University, strict lab environmnet (which is still ecologically valid though) to the actual living space i.e. homes, thereby increasing ecological validity to 100%. In compliance with the co-creation principles, seniors influence decisions concerning some devices and their usability for different products and projects.
Delivering the possibility of self-evaluating the data that have been gathered by sensors and devices installed in their homes, elderly people are becoming more aware about their health and lifestyle trends. The development of a quantified-self app (www.aha-livinglabs.com/qsa) for visualizing sensor data in the wild has been actively co-created to increase the perceived usefulness of technologyby seniors.
Having realized the value of being able to reproduce these pilots through their datasets, the CAC Playback Manager (http://www.cac-framework.com), based on an Internet of Things (IoT) framework supporting controllers and devices, is composed of streaming players delivering data streams to remote clients (playback) by simulating the source sensors and devices. A web application, developed to facilitate the study of several use cases, has been used from its inception by internal and external research groups focusing on AHA, as well as, by different SMEs.
4. Your living lab or project in a box
Thess-AHALL, consisting of ecologically valid environments for elderly, facilitates the ulterior aim of speeding up innovation, collaboration as well as development and testing of more accurate services, which is achieved by an early involvement of users as co-creators.