Independent living for persons with disabilities and elderly people

ICOST’2003: 1st International Conference on Smart Homes and Health Telematics


Mokhtari, M.

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Often, we find that our environment is not well suited for people who have lost the ability to use their own lower limbs to walk or their own upper limbs to perform daily living tasks, such as opening a door, eating, or even accessing a computer. To compensate, people with disabilities often have to use assistive technology aids such as an electrical wheelchair to assist them in moving about, a robot manipulator to move objects in their surroundings, environmental control systems to regulate the home environment and communication systems to improve their ability to communicate or to get information by the use of a computer. Consequently, the user is confronted with several heterogeneous systems, imposing several user interfaces, providing multiple and complementary functionalities, and forming a whole complex environment that we could describe as a smart environment. This situation is usually described in the literature, and by some industrials, as the "smart homes" concept. It is not necessarily limited to the home environment, but can also be found in other environments such as a hospital, school, train station, or places to pursue leisure activities. The goal for the future is to make technology more accessible for people who have limited independence as a result of the loss of physical and/or cognitive capabilities. Assistive technologies, coupled with networking protocols, bring the opportunity to improve the autonomy of disabled and elderly people and facilitate their social and professional integration by assisting them in their daily life.