Development of Audio Sensing Technology for Ambient Assisted Living: Applications and Challenges

Development of Audio Sensing Technology for Ambient Assisted Living: Applications and Challenges

Michel Vacher (Laboratoire d’Informatique de Grenoble, UMR CNRS/UJF/G-INP 5217, France), François Portet (Laboratoire d’Informatique de Grenoble, UMR CNRS/UJF/G-INP 5217, France), Anthony Fleury (University Lille Nord de France, France) and Norbert Noury (University of Lyon, France)
Copyright: © 2011 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/jehmc.2011010103
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One of the greatest challenges in Ambient Assisted Living is to design health smart homes that anticipate the needs of its inhabitant while maintaining their safety and comfort. It is thus essential to ease the interaction with the smart home through systems that naturally react to voice command using microphones rather than tactile interfaces. However, efficient audio analysis in such noisy environment is a challenging task. In this paper, a real-time audio analysis system, the AuditHIS system, devoted to audio analysis in smart home environment is presented. AuditHIS has been tested thought three experiments carried out in a smart home that are detailed. The results show the difficulty of the task and serve as basis to discuss the stakes and the challenges of this promising technology in the domain of AAL.
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Application Context

Health smart homes aim at assisting disabled and the growing number of elderly people which, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), is forecasted to reach 2 billion by 2050. Of course, one of the first wishes of this population is to be able to live independently as long as possible for a better comfort and to age well. Independent living also reduces the cost to society of supporting people who have lost some autonomy. Nowadays, when somebody is loosing autonomy, according to the health system of her country, she is transferred to a care institution which will provide all the necessary supports.

Autonomy assessment is usually performed by geriatricians, using the index of independence in Activities of Daily Living (ADL) (Katz & Akpom, 1976), which evaluates the person’s ability to realize different tasks (e.g., doing a meal, washing, going to the toilets...) either alone, or with a little or total assistance. For example, the AGGIR grid (Autonomie Gérontologie Groupes Iso-Ressources) is used by the French health system. In this grid, seventeen activities including ten discriminative (e.g., talking coherently, find one’s bearings, dressing, going to the toilets...) and seven illustrative (e.g., transports, money management, ...) are graded with an A (the task can be achieved alone, completely and correctly), a B (the task has not been totally performed without assistance or not completely or not correctly) or a C (the task has not been achieved). Using these grades, a score is computed and, according to the scale, a geriatrician can deduce the person’s level of autonomy to evaluate the need for medical or financial support.

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