Alternatives for Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) for elderly care?

Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) is maybe the most problematic technology discussed at the moment. Elderly people want to continue to live at home, inter alia, to retain the dignity and privacy of a home, rather than move into a nursing home. AAL turns the familiar home into a 24/7 Orwellian nightmare.
Here some futile attempts to add privacy to a technology whose main component is 24/7 surveillance:


I find it disconcerting that so much of this program is focused on video surveillance as the primary sensor. Immediately, there are so many privacy concerns… and given the titles of the separate projects, everyone is well aware of that. Then why not explore further the alternatives, and see how much really is possible to achieve without switching on a camera. I have seen market-ready radar sensors at IFA Berlin two years ago, with seemingly great fall detection etc, and there must be so much more possible.

Of course, replacing the “universal sensor” that a camera is, does not take away all aspects of surveillance and possible wrongdoing - but why not start from the perspective of “what is the minimum amount of information that is needed to provide a particular function/ detect something”, rather than “cool, we got Grandma on cam and mike now, what can with do with that, and how can we convince people it is not creepy and dangerous at all?”


I have first-hand experience of AAL tech where some improvement may be in order. To stay in contact with our 100-year old grandmother our family bought an expensive KOMP video device. It only has one On/Off button that doubles as a volume regulator, nothing more.

It is great that using this device we can talk face-to-face with granny using an internet-based video connection. Every family members is added as a user and calls in from a mobile app, while some family members are the admins that do user management. In terms of data protection it follows a privacy-first approach. Overall we are happy with the device.


It is not well designed from the perspective of the elderly people that use it. First of all the website doesn’t target them at all, as if they were only the subjects, not individual people who also might have something to say. If the device is On, and some family member gives a call, then the elderly person has 9 seconds to be ready in front of the screen. After that period of time the camera pops on whether they want it or not. Theoretically one could quickly turn the device to Off with the one button, and become entirely unreachable (unless by a landline call or when they turn it on again). But for my grandma the button is out of reach. She’s immobile in a wheelchair, hence any call will inevitably show her on camera. No freedom of choice.

Another bad design decision… when the device is on it shows an endless carousel of the family members avatars that are configured as users. This carousel changes every couple of second from one photo to the next, and goes on and on and on. And it is in front of my grandma’s eyes all day, every day… it makes her crazy. Apparently (I am no admin) this cannot be switched off or even slowed down.

PS. I’ll sent a link to this post to KOMP, so if there are inaccuracies in the above (which there might be), they can react or I will correct it…