Smart assistance

IEC takes systems approach for standardization in Active Assisted Living

By Claire Marchand

One of the emerging trends of the 21st century is the ageing of the world population. 

Active Assisted Living for seniors
AAL offers “intelligent systems of assistance for a better, healthier and safer life in the preferred living environment”

Worldwide trend

People worldwide are living longer. Thanks to technological advances, improvements in healthcare and increase in welfare, the average lifespan had already more than doubled in the 20th century, but the trend is accelerating. Today, for the first time in history, most people can expect to live into their sixties and beyond. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), by 2050, the world’s population aged 60 years and older is expected to total two billion, up from 900 million in 2015. 

While the distribution of age groups shifting towards older ages began in high-income countries, it is bound to expand and affect low and middle-income countries as well. The WHO predicts that in 2050, 80% of older people will be living in low- and middle-income countries. 

The number of people with disabilities is also growing throughout the world. It is partly a consequence of the population ageing – older persons have a higher risk of disability. 

Providing smart assistance

The burden of social and healthcare systems is and will be significant. This is why it is essential to put in place strategies that allow older and/or disabled people to live their life in the best possible conditions and environments. 

Active Assisted Living (AAL) offers “intelligent systems of assistance for a better, healthier and safer life in the preferred living environment”. 

Seniors, people with disabilities can benefit from all new technological developments that help them remain as independent, active and healthy as is possible. AAL is also essential for those living in remote and isolated areas, especially in the healthcare and education sectors. 

The development of smart devices and wearables, the Internet of Things, robotics, the emergence of smart homes and buildings will play a major role in assisting these population categories. 

The IEC at the forefront

With the establishment of a Systems Committee (SyC) dealing with AAL issues, the IEC has taken a leading role in the development of International Standards in that field. The scope of SyC AAL is to create a vision of AAL that takes into account the evolution of the market: “Foster standardization of Active Assisted Living (AAL) systems, services, products and components to enhance the quality of life and enable independent living through the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) by ensuring usability, accessibility, interoperability, security and safety for all users including caregivers”.

Gallery
Active Assisted Living for seniors AAL offers “intelligent systems of assistance for a better, healthier and safer life in the preferred living environment”
myoelectric prosthetic hand Battery-powered (myoelectric) prosthetic hands use electronic sensors to detect minute muscle, nerve, and electromyography (EMG) activity (Photo: Touch Bionics)
Microprocessor-controlled hydraulic knee Microprocessor-controlled hydraulic knee with swing and stance phase control prosthesis (Photo: Otto Bock)
Claire Marchand, Managing Editor e-tech Claire Marchand, Managing Editor e-tech