Ubiquitous Computing for Independent Living

Ubiquitous Computing for Independent Living

Neil W. Bergmann (University of Queensland, Australia)
Copyright: © 2011 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-825-8.ch001
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Ubiquitous computing technology (ICT) shows great potential in supporting the infirm elderly, and others managing complex health issues, to live independently in their own home. While these technologies have great promise, their adoption level is low in Australia. It is suggested that two concurrent strategies are needed to improve the penetration of ICT-based assistive technology in the community. Firstly, significant trials are needed to verify that such systems can provide improved health outcomes and reduce health system costs for suitably targeted patients. Secondly, research in security and privacy, open standards, human-computer interfaces and new models of care driving software specifications is needed, so that these health system benefits can be achieved at a reasonable cost, and with adequate consideration of the needs of clients and carers.
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A defining characteristic of humans is that they are inventive and habitual tool users. We all use tools to enhance our physical, cognitive and communicative capabilities. Assistive technologies are one class of tools which aim to improve the quality of life of those faced with particular medical, physical, or cognitive challenges. An important class of assistive technologies is enabled by Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). This chapter looks at a subset of ICT called ubiquitous computing. It investigates how such devices and systems can be best used to develop assistive technologies that can help the ageing and infirm to live more independently in their own homes, rather than in institutional settings.

The chapter will first look in some detail at the characteristics of modern ubiquitous computing systems and then the requirements for independent living, before bringing the two topics together to investigate ways in which ubiquitous computing systems can be better designed to enhance living independently.

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