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A multitude of AAL systems is currently being developed in order to meet the challenges of the demographic change. Because of the different application areas and complex requirements these systems are very specialized. This leads to the development of isolated applications that are not flexible. However, an adaption of the AAL system over time is needed in order to cope with the requirements that change with increasing age, e. g. due to multimorbidity.

Why Interoperability?

Such adaptability can only be reached through interoperability, i. e. communication capabilities between individual systems and components. Interoperability is also an essential precondition for the integration of AAL systems into the healthcare sector. One reason why this topic is still largely unregarded is its high level of complexity: There are many industry and formal standards that are applicable to this field of application. Standards sometimes overlap in scope, but are mostly mutually exclusive. Another important issue is limited access to offers such as middleware, which causes most current R&D projects to develop their own infrastructure.

Goals of the RAALI Project

The RAALI projects aims at addressing the most important unsolved issues that need to be tackled for an implementation of interoperable AAL systems and components. The results of this work will be made available to the scientific community in order to enable future R&D projects and product developments to profit from these results. In particular the innovations, product developments, standards and political frameworks required to solve the interoperability challenge will be analysed and published in a Roadmap document. Furthermore, so-called „use case based integration profiles“ for the most important AAL applications will be exemplarily defined and published. Finally a survey of middleware platforms for AAL available on the market, including their capabilities and limitations, will be developed and also published. Therewith the three required steps for the development of interoperable systems are shown exemplarily: The standardisation of interfaces and data structures, the combination and specialisation (profiling) of standards for particular use cases, and the analysis of existing software infrastructures concerning their support for relevant norms and integration profiles.

Since the RAALI project is directly based on the groundwork laid by the „Interoperability“ working group of the BMBF/VDE Innovation Partnership on AAL, the project will be carried out in close coordination with this expert gremium. Regular common workshop meetings and a continuous mutual exchange of information on the state of the work are part of the project's work plan.

Development and Consensus Building of a German Roadmap AAL Interoperability

In this activity, a „roadmap“ for the interoperability of AAL system components will be defined and consensus will be sought with the scientific and technical community including user associations and standards bodies. The roadmap will identify the innovations, product development, standards and political framework requirements that are needed to enable the emergence of a versatile market with compatible, retrofittable, adaptable AAL systems. The roadmap will also describe priorities and a possible time frame for implementation. The work will be based on the extensive groundwork of the „Interoperability“ working group of the BMBF/VDE Innovation Partnership on AAL, which, however, currently only reflects the opinions of the working group members and was not yet discussed and agreed upon with the stakeholder communities. This requires the inclusion of external experts through interviews and thematic workshops on a larger scale than possible for a voluntary working group.

Development of Use Case Based Integration Profiles for AAL

One approach for the implementation of interoperable systems that has been successfully established in the last 10 years in the field of medical IT is the definition of so-called use case oriented integration profiles, as being defined by the „Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise“ initiative for the healthcare sector and by the Continua Health Alliance for the supervision of vital parameters in the domestic environment. Integration profiles describe typical use cases and identify the IT system components required for their implementation as well as the interfaces between these components. For each interface, precise requirements based on existing standards and their options are then defined in order to enable „plug and play“ interaction. Therefore, integration profiles are on a higher level of abstraction than existing standards for communication protocols and complement these. Aim of this activity in the RAALI project is to identify typical AAL application scenarios, to define integration profiles for them and to promote their standardisation. This may take the form of a VDE application guide, or alternatively the contribution of the results to the activities of IHE or Continua.

Survey of Middleware Platforms for AAL

On international level there are currently several initiatives and projects that are working towards the establishment of an AAL middleware platform available under an open source licence. This includes universAAL, OpenAAL, OpenURC and the AAL Open Association. These activities are in line with one of the central recommendations of the „Interoperability“ working group and are very much appreciated. However, from the point of view of a system developer still the questions arise which of the available platforms is most suited for which AAL system, how the platforms will develop in the future, to which hardware they have been ported, which requirements in terms of CPU power, memory etc. they pose, and so on. Goal of this activity is to perform a survey of available AAL middleware platforms, to continously maintain this survey (i. e. by following the progress of the platforms) and to inform the scientific and technical community about availability, capabilities, requirements etc. of these platforms. This will enable future R&D projects and product developments in the field of AAL to base their developments without much difficulties on the most appropriate existing middleware platform.


OFFIS – Institute for Information Technology
DKE German Commission for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies of DIN and VDE
Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics (IGD)
Technical University Dresden, Institute for Applied Computer Science
University of Rostock, Institute of Applied Microelectronics and Computer Engineering
University Medical Centre Göttingen, Medical Informatics
ENS - Free Institute for Technical Computer Science UG (limited liability)
Embedded Network Solutions