Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Delivering online assistance to the needy

07.04.2006


Some 60 million older Europeans suffering from chronic diseases and/or needing care say they would welcome online help delivered to their homes. A new tested video-telephony system underlines the ‘e-care’ benefits for users and over-stretched social-service and healthcare providers.



Video telephony allows immediate contact with people at home, enables them to continue living at home and relieves pressure on care-providers by reducing physical journeys. It was first tested in Europe in the early 1990s using analogue cable. Though costly and bulky, these pioneering systems were shown to be helpful for elderly people who also liked using them.

Under the project IST@HOME, researchers developed an affordable and usable video-telephony system that built on work done in a series of European Union-funded projects to design home and care-provision systems for elderly people. It comprises a small movable camera, a set-top box for a TV and a handheld service pad. Together, these components enable users to see, talk to or seek assistance from professional carers in real time, over the Internet.


“Our focus was on visual communications and user acceptance,” says Simon Robinson, the project’s coordinator. “We wanted to go beyond the state-of-the-art for systems in the home environment. Our goal was to allow users to communicate from any room in the house and to talk to service staff via a TV set rather than a desktop PC.”

The project partners, funded under the European Commission’s IST programme, installed the complete system in some 600 homes in Germany, Belgium, Spain and Portugal and tested it for six months. They also produced portable video-communications devices which can be carried from room to room. The size of an A4 sheet of paper, these devices are standard tablet PCs with a video camera.

Older users and service staff expressed great appreciation for the project’s services and systems, with most of both groups saying they would like to use them in future if possible. Both groups also rated the video quality acceptable to very acceptable at the data rate used, which was typically 256 kbits/second.

However, service staff identified some problems. These included alarm integration, eye-to-eye contact, lack of synchronicity between lip movement and speech, as well as audio quality and technical interruptions. “What is important for two-way communications is frames per second – ideally 24 when there is movement, the screen resolution of each picture, and speed to code,” says Robinson.

The partners also discovered that today’s wireless networks are less than ideal for larger homes. “WiFi is inadequate for video telephony,” he adds, “because it needs stable, high-bandwidth connections. Quality-of-service guarantees must be added to ensure video signals are acceptable.”

Yet dedicated equipment was not the goal, notes the coordinator. For example, the centre providing services was reengineered using open Java technology plus real-time video encoding hardware. “We also developed pure software-based codecs which are almost as good as the hardware. So future systems could be based on standard devices.”

By the project’s end, the partners concluded that home video-telephony systems of this kind are feasible, but that they require better integration – for example with alarm systems or with mobile devices that register vital signs such as blood pressure.

The IST@HOME systems are on show in Portugal Telecom’s exhibition centre and have been demonstrated by Johanneswerk, a service provider under the German social welfare organisation of the Protestant church, and hospital/care providers.

Tara Morris | alfa
Further information:
http://istresults.cordis.europa.eu.int/

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht The competitive edge: Dietary competition played a key role in the evolution of early primates
01.08.2018 | Grand Valley State University

nachricht Diversity and education influence India’s population growth
31.07.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: It’s All in the Mix: Jülich Researchers are Developing Fast-Charging Solid-State Batteries

There are currently great hopes for solid-state batteries. They contain no liquid parts that could leak or catch fire. For this reason, they do not require cooling and are considered to be much safer, more reliable, and longer lasting than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Jülich scientists have now introduced a new concept that allows currents up to ten times greater during charging and discharging than previously described in the literature. The improvement was achieved by a “clever” choice of materials with a focus on consistently good compatibility. All components were made from phosphate compounds, which are well matched both chemically and mechanically.

The low current is considered one of the biggest hurdles in the development of solid-state batteries. It is the reason why the batteries take a relatively long...

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A paper battery powered by bacteria

21.08.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Protein interaction helps Yersinia cause disease

21.08.2018 | Life Sciences

Biosensor allows real-time oxygen monitoring for 'organs-on-a-chip'

21.08.2018 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>