Programme AAL (Ambient Assisted Living) Programme
Duration 1st April 2011 – 1st August 2013
Participants CERETETH - Center for Research and Technology, Greece
iKnowHow, Greece
University of Potsdam, Germany
Fondazione Ugo Bordoni, Italy
Università di Milano-Bicocca, Italy
Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Italy
ISTC, Italy
FIMI, Italy
Web site http://www.easyreach-project.eu/

EasyReach is project approved in the framework of FP7 in the second call of Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) Joint Programme. The project is an innovative and sustainable ICT solution to allow elderly and less educated people to participate in the benefits of IT-based social interactions. The project will build a system, called EasyReach, that supports many styles of social interaction between users. The hardware will be very simple: a remote control resembling a small TV remote but capable of capturing user's gestures and of taking pictures; the remote will use radio frequency instead of infrared light. The software will run in a set-top box that has a DVB-T decoder, a GSM/UMTS modem and a TV output. Social exchanges will be managed and aided by a "social interaction agent" that resides in the set-top box (for scalability and privacy) and that "looks" at all the interactions and commands from the user. Social interaction agents can go on the net and query other agents on behalf of user's wishes or simply to fulfil the goal of improving the quality and breadth of user's interactions. Interactions are cast as "services" that are managed and enhanced by EasyReach, for example:

  • organizing groups of people that already know each other, e.g. relatives and friends;
  • creating groups of people that care for a certain topic (discussion);
  • organizing groups for the purpose of "interfacing" the user with existing organizations, e.g. a church
  • organizing help sessions where a skilled user that can help or train other users.
    Moreover, EasyReach will continuously examine user actions and interactions. This will give the user a few extra services, for example:
  • support of user's threads of interaction like appointments and things-to-do:
  • automatic organization of user's information:
  • monitoring of user's quality of interaction in order to provide feedback;
  • fostering of new interactions.

A possible scenario

A possible scenario

The system will be installed in the user's home by positioning the set-top box near the TV and connecting it to the AC supply and to the TV inputs (a number of standard interconnections will be provided). The TV will be permanently set to "external input". The original antenna will be connected to the set-top box.
The user will be given a new remote control and explained the basics of how to use it. Extensive training for a more advanced use will be provided by the system.
The system automatically and without user intervention will search for other users. Well know peer-to-peer technology is used to avoid using a central service.
The system will provide the usual TV channels that will be accessed, at least initially, with the same style of interaction of a typical remote control (numbers for channels, up and down arrows to change channel, up and down volume, on-off). All the new services will be provided on what looks like a new TV channel.
The user will start noticing that the remote is aware of its position and of how it is handled. Simple pointing to the screen can trigger actions. The remote can be pointed to home objects including text in order to take pictures, there is feedback (the viewfinder) on the TV. Users will be able to collect and send pictures of whatever they have in their home. Pictures can be annotated with voice and shelved in the system. The user will start participating in groups suggested by the system and, slowly, will start having a more active role proposing new groups and activities...