This chapter will describe our experience concerning a model-based method for environment design in the field of smart homes dedicated to people with disabilities. An overview of related and similar works and domains will be presented in regards to our approach: adaptive user interface according to environment impact. This approach introduces two constraints in a context aware environment: the control of different types of assistive devices (environmental control system) and the presence of the user with disabilities (user profile). We have designed a service-oriented approach to make it easier the management of services life cycle, and we are designing a semantic specification language based on XML to allow dynamic generation of user interface and environment representation. With the new design of context representation, context framework, and context rule specification, we will demonstrate how changes in contexts adapts supervisor task model which in turn configure the whole system. This chapter is dedicated to researchers having strong interest in developing context aware applications based on existing framework. The application to assistive technology for dependant people is the most suitable since the demand of such pervasive environment is clearly identified.
What Is An Assistive Environment?
Dependant people, due to disability or aging, compose a significant segment of the population that would profit from usage of such technologies with the crucial condition that it is physically and economically accessible. This should be possible only if accessibility barriers are detected and considered in a global solution based on a “design for all” concept. The challenge is to consider standardization aspects from the physical low level (i.e., sensors) to application level (i.e., user interface) of any system design.
Autonomy and quality of life of people with disabilities and elderly people in daily living would benefit from smart homes designed under the “assistive environment” paradigm and can experience significant enhancements due to the increased support received from the environment (Sumi helal, 2003). This support includes facilities for environmental control, information access, communication, monitoring, etc., and built over various existing and emerging technologies. Nevertheless, users are usually confronted to accessibility barriers located at the level of human-machine interface due to heterogeneous devices, features and communication protocols involved. These problems include both, physical difficulties to handle input devices, and cognitive barriers to understand and reach suitable functionalities. Consequently, accessible unified interfaces to control all the appliances and services are needed. This is only possible if the network, devices, and mobile technologies used for smart homes are able to support interoperability and systems integration (Abascal, 2003).
Key Terms in this Chapter
Pervasive Environment: Environment that include several kinds of handheld devices, wireless and wired protocols, and a set of services. The specificity of this environment is its ability to handle with any service at any time any where and any system.
Dependant People: People having physical or cognitive incapacities (people with motor disabilities, elderly people, etc.) and suffer from less autonomy in doing their daily activities.
Context Awarness: Any relevant information or useful data that can enrich the user interface and assist the update of environment organization and human machine interaction.
Assistive Environment: Environment equipped with several kinds of assistive devices which interconnect and communicate together in order to give dependant user more autonomy and comfort.