Semi-automated Activity Monitoring for the Elderly

I was the technical lead for a project creating ComCare, a social networking service facilitating community-based care for the elderly

The idea was to give easy-to-use tablet PCs to an elderly person, their friends and their family. Each of the tablets would have different functionality and purpose. The elderly would make status updates, while their friends and family members could see them, much like the content characterization model we have seen used by Google+.

For example, if an elderly person were to write a status update on their tablet, family and friends would be able to read it directly, while more distance circles, including nurses and municipal workers would only see that they have been active. This way, privacy is kept to a certain degree, but caretakers are kept apprised of any activity.

ComCare was also augmented with sensors. The elderly person’s house was equipped with different types of sensors for different purposes. The sensors were directly connected to the tablet via USB connection. In the first deployed version of ComCare, we used movement sensors to detect when the person used the door, pressure sensors to detect when mail was picked up, and magnetic sensors to detect when the fridge door was opened.

ComCare concept.

ComCare concept.


Implementation was eventually done using Phidget sensor kits and Android tablets, with MQTT messaging protocol connecting all the parts of the system.

ComCare was deployed in three different flats in Rovaniemi, Finland, by University of Lapland and care-keepers of the elderly persons living in the flats. The software and the entire system was created at our premises at University of Oulu, supervised by me. The article below gives more details about the entire rationale and implementation behind ComCare.

Related publications

Alakärppä I, Jaakkola E & Hosio S. (2012)
SNS as a Platform of the Activity Monitoring system for the Elderly
Proc. Advances in Personalized Healthcare Services, Wearable Mobile Monitoring, and Social Media Pervasive Technologies (APHS), Paris, France, 2012