Partnering opportunity

Test innovative technologies for senior citizens in a Swiss network of private homes and care institutions

Summary

An interdisciplinary Swiss research centre offers to test products at different stages of development for senior citizens’ private homes and/or care institutions. The products will be tested over a period of 3-6 months in actual living environments of elderly end-users. The research centre will collect data regarding user-friendliness and technology acceptance to identify the needs and obstacles regarding the product and improve market opportunities of partners. A research cooperation is sought.

Partner sought

The specific area of activity of the partner: Developer of innovative technologies to support elderly people. The tasks to be performed by the partner sought: The partner should be willing to provide their technology, product or service to the Swiss organisation for testing in households or nursing homes in Switzerland. The partner should be willing to incorporate the test results into the further development or adaptation of their product, so that the end-result is a product optimally adapted to elderly people’s needs and wishes and has a higher chance of success on the market.

Description

As a result of demographic change, the number of people aged 65 and over is rising, with more and more individuals requiring technical support in everyday life. Technological solutions offer the potential to help elderly people and their relatives or carers. The Swiss centre of competence has set up living labs across Switzerland to support the development of user-friendly technologies for the elderly. In living labs, people aged 65 and over, along with their relatives or carers, test and evaluate technologies in their everyday environment. The Swiss competence centre tests assistive technologies that increase and support the safety, autonomy and quality of life of elderly people. These technologies include easy-to-use digital technologies and services, as well as more complex robotic solutions. The tests are carried out in private homes, assisted living facilities, old people’s homes and nursing homes. Their testing procedure is based on several different levels. The technologies are tested with senior citizens for user-friendliness, usefulness and acceptance during 3-6 months in an everyday-life setting. Based on feedback, products are then improved upon and can go through further test loops until they are optimised for their use case. The research centre would like to test technologies designed to support elderly people at home or in care institutions. They can cooperate throughout the whole product development and offer background information helpful from the idea-finding process to the market entry. Technologies can also be prototypes at an early stage of development or products ready for market testing. Optimally, partners would supply the technology to be tested free of charge, so that end-users can test it in their habitual environments. The tests should not be associated with any costs or obligations to purchase for the end users. The tests are a chance to improve and adapt the product to actual user needs and are not to be used as means of promotion or commercial activity. Competencies and resources: - Expertise in social science research (quantitative and qualitative). - Technological expertise in product testing and innovation optimisation. - A large national network of innovative decentralised test environments (private households, exclusive collaborations with homes for the elderly, retirement homes and assisted living facilities). - National and international networks comprising universities, business partners, practitioners and utility service providers. - Integration into the age and ageing in society national innovation network, which is led by the Swiss competence centre. Practical Organisation: In case of a partnership, a joint grant application would have to be sent to a suitable sponsor or foundation. The application can be written by either partner or in collaboration. The Swiss research centre offers support in the writing process of grant applications. Research cooperations with companies or research organisations are sought.

Advantages and innovations

Technologies and products for the elderly are usually tested in artificially created laboratory settings for short periods of time. This type of methodology leads to products which are not in demand and have slim chances to succeed in the competitive market of today. Testing in a living lab is an exceptional opportunity to develop products which are optimally adapted to users’ needs and wishes and thus have high chances of success on the market. The long-term tests under natural conditions and actual application environments ensure that possible usage barriers and malfunctions can be identified and addressed at an early stage. The testing process is coordinated and accompanied by research associates, which serve as personal contact points for the technology partners. They deal on a one-to-one basis with any queries or concerns that may arise and serve as the liaison between the technology partners, the Swiss research centre and the end-users. With its local network and connections, the Swiss organisation helps to find the ideal test setting for the product, be it a private home or care institution, and document the process with scientific methods. Regardless of where the tests take place the associates form the link between all stakeholders. They ensure that the tests comply to ethical standards of the Swiss Ethical Committee and equally comply to national laws. By involving different stakeholders and points of view (industry, research, end users) interdisciplinary exchange and learning is encouraged and senior citizens, relatives and nursing staff feel taken seriously in this participatory approach.

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