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Monitoring people in private spaces: technological advances and societal issues.


24th September 2015, 14:00-17:30


  • Location: Ghent, Belgium (as part of the AAL Forum 2015).
  • Room: To be determined.


Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) plays a major role in helping formal and informal carers to provide support in assisting the person in need and a higher degree of independent living to the person cared for. Technology is gradually gaining acceptance as a means to complement the work of caregivers by monitoring and assisting persons with reduced physical or cognitive capacity in their day-to-day living. AAL spaces make use of a collection of sensors that collect information from the environment or its dwellers. Binary sensors are employed to detect or record on/off status, temperature, motion, pressure or lighting level. These embedded sensors allow to obtain the state or context of the environment. Detection and tracking of people can be implemented using infrared ceiling sensors, sensors embedded in the carpet, and radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags or other sensors worn by the users. Other more complex systems employing audio and video can also be used.

However, monitoring is often seen as intrusive and as violating rights to privacy. This potential loss of privacy is exacerbated by the use of cameras because video data is easily understandable by unauthorised viewers. Acceptance of such technologies is low because they create a sense of Orwellian "Big Brother" surveillance. Therefore simpler sensors, which provide greater acceptance, are currently used. However, the information they obtain is of less quality, thus services offered are limited.

Currently, there are a number of EU research and innovation projects working on the monitoring of people using this variety of sensors. For instance, the BREATHE project aims to develop intelligent monitoring vision systems incorporating privacy-enhancing features into a system at the design stage, i.e. privacy by design. BREATHE applies the principles of privacy by design to develop privacy-aware sensing technology as a step towards countering the reluctance to accept these technologies.

Therefore, the main objectives are

  • To present the latest developments on technologies for monitoring people in AAL environments, and
  • To identify the fundamental ethical issues and healthcare principles that are pertinent to AAL with specific reference to technology in family homes.


Presentation of the session

Part I - Technological advances for monitoring people – Chaired by Lázaro-Ramos, Tecnologías para la Salud y el Bienestar, Spain:

Part II - Societal issues: – Chaired by Prof Nigel Harris, Designability, United Kingdom:

Conclusions and closing

Who (organizer)

This event will be led by partners from the BREATHE Project Consortium. BREATHE is a research project currently running with the aim of creating an ICT-based platform to provide daily guidance and support for the informal caregiver in the long-term care of elderly people.

Whom (attendants)

This event is open to any other researchers, end-users as well as those stakeholders interested in the topic covered: the monitoring of people in private spaces.

You can participate by sending and abstract (500 words) of your contribution to breatheaalproject@gmail.com. Deadline: 15th July, 2015. Organisers will review the proposals and reply by the end of July. Accepted abstracts will be made available online.

Lessons learned from this session, conclusions and recommendations will be included in a document on "Lessons learned on the use of monitoring technology for Informal Long Term Care of elderly people". This document will include public acknowledgment to participants in this session.

Submission of abstracts

You can participate by sending and abstract (500 words) of your contribution to breatheaalproject@gmail.com. Deadline: 15th July, 2015. Organisers will review the proposals and reply by the end of July.

About the AAL Forum

The AAL Forum is the annual showcase event for the people involved in the AAL JP’s projects and the AAL community. Its purpose is to exhibit and demonstrate existing or developing ICT solutions, promote networking, foster the interest of other sectors in the field of AAL, provoke debate and discussion on new emerging developments in the area. The 2015 edition will take place on 22-25 September 2015 in Ghent (Belgium).

Link to site: http://www.aalforum.eu/programme-2