Investigation on the potential of smart materials and textiles for assisting the elderly and their integration in smart furniture and habitats

Author:  Ms Lepa Petrovska-Hristovska STSM Period: 2018-11-12- – 2018-12-12

ECI: Yes

Hosting institution: Faculty of Technical Sciences, University of Novi Sad, Serbia (RS)

From ITC: Yes

Summary

1.Aim and motivation – scientific motivation and scientific outcomes

It is estimated that by 2020, the European population will be consisted of 25% elderly of 65 years old, while by 2050, this population is expected to grow by 70% (1). This tendency would place an increased burden on the healthcare system as more people would require assistance. The trend of the elderly to stay at home more often (2), imposes that the healthcare should be provided in a decentralized manner, at the premises of their homes. However, in some of the EU countries a lack of doctors and healthcare workers is noted, leading to a decrease of quality of the healthcare services (3).

Also, the goals of the contemporary society to achieve sustainability in buildings and everyday living means taking into consideration the three domains, such as: environmental, social and economic. Therefore, the needs for new materials have emerged, that could provide comfort to the inhabitants, create healthy environment, to be easy to maintain, to have potential to be reusable and recyclable, to be economically affordable and similar aspects.

At the same time, the development of the ITC technologies, offers solutions to satisfy the occupants needs especially to assist the elderly in their everyday life by providing user feedback, control, assistance etc. In the recent decades, certain new telecommunication technologies have been introduced and utilized in the healthcare system, such as telemedicine and telehealth. However, there is still much to do in order to fully achieve their potential, especially in the integration with the smart homes and habitats.

Hence, the objective of this STSM is to broaden the knowledge and to identify the possibilities of smart materials and textiles for assisting the elderly during their everyday activities. The aims are:

•to broaden the knowledge base and identify the possibilities of smart materials and textiles regarding the elderly needs and to integrate them in a smart habitat.
•to recognize and review available technologies and sensors.
•to identify production possibilities of smart materials.
•to contribute towards creation of sustainable and healthy environments.
•to provide healthy aging and an assistive environment for everyday activities.
•to identify the possibilities of ITC technologies for integration of smart materials into smart furniture and a creation of smart habitat.

The output results of the STSM will provide a solid knowledge base regarding the possibilities of smart materials for creation of sustainable and assistive habitats for the elderly. By disseminating the findings the STSM will contribute towards an increase of knowledge among designers and architects and an increased implementation of smart materials in the buildings and furniture design. Hence, the findings for the STSM research will be published in a relevant conference or journal, for which the SHELD-ON Action will be greatly acknowledged.

Also, considering that the construction materials and furniture production industries are a significant contributor to the European economy, it is necessary to identify their direction for future development, towards satisfying the needs of the people, especially assisting the elderly in their everyday needs.
The topic of this STSM research is relevant to the work of Working Group 1- Furniture and Habitat Industry and WG 2 – ICT development, of the SHELD-ON COST action. Therefore, conducting this STSM research will significantly contribute towards achieving the research objectives of the SHELD-ON Action in the creation of smart habitats that would assist the elderly in their everyday living.

References:
(1) EU Ambient Assisted Living Joint Programme, 2012, Demographic data and future trends about ageing, Available at: http://www.aal-europe.eu/about/demographic-change/
(2) EUROSTAT statistics explained, http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statisticsexplained
(3) “Ageing and life course,” http://www.who.int/ageing,

* Justification for choice of the host institution
The Faculty of Sciences offers a wide range of possibilities to investigate the smart textiles from different viewpoints. Considering they integrate different disciplines, during the STSM it will be possible for me to investigate the smart textiles from a technological production viewpoint and to gather information on ITC technologies and sensors and their integration in textiles and furniture. The networking possibilities and discussions with colleagues from different departments will be of great benefit for successful conduct of the STSM and will support the holistic approach of the STSM.

* Benefits of the STSM
As a researcher in the domain of sustainability assessment methods, the Host will benefit from my knowledge in the influence of the design aspects that influence the overall sustainability of the materials and buildings.

For me, the possibilities to have open access to different research departments and domains in relevance to smart materials, textiles and ITC technology is a unique opportunity. This will enable me to successfully conduct the STSMs` goals and objectives. The networking with peers from the Host university will provide me with new knowledge and skills which will be shared with colleagues in my home country.

The established collaboration with the Host will be a solid base for future collaboration on similar research topics regarding smart textiles, materials, furniture and homes. This will enable applying for a research proposal for EU funded projects.

2. Proposed contribution to the scientific objectives of the Action
The contribution of this STSM are the findings regarding the possibilities of smart materials and textiles for assisting the elderly in their everyday living. Also, the possibilities of ITC technology for integration of smart materials and textiles in smart furniture with a goal of creating a smart home will be investigated, where all the smart technologies are integrated with a holistic system. The findings of the research will be published in a relevant conference and journal paper for which the Action will be greatly acknowledged.

The outputs of the STSM are listed as follows:
•Review of state-of-the-art advancements in smart materials and smart textiles and their benefits for assisting the elderly regarding their health.
•Review of the possibilities of smart materials and textiles for integration with smart furniture products.
•Review of the possibilities of smart materials for integration in buildings and the creation of sustainable, healthy and comfortable living environments.
•Identification of the possibilities of ITC technologies and their integration with smart materials for the creation of smart furniture and smart habitats.
•To contribute towards the creation of sustainable and healthy environments.
•To provide healthy ageing and an assistive environment for everyday activities.
•Dissemination of the obtained knowledge by producing a research paper.
•Established network with peer researchers for conducting future research.

The deliverables of the STSM research are:
•To show the potential of the smart materials and textiles in integrating into smart furniture and smart habitats, thus assisting the elderly during their everyday life.
•To show that smart materials can significantly improve the indoor living conditions and assist the elderly.
•Report on the current state-of-the-art of smart materials, textiles and ITC technologies for the creation of smart habitats.
•Increase the knowledge among architects and designers on the integration of smart materials and ITC technologies in the buildings design and creation of a sustainable smart buildings.
•Broaden the knowledge in the aforementioned topic with a goal of promoting an active and healthy ageing.
•To stimulate the implementation of smart materials in the creation of sustainable and healthy environments for the elderly.
•The STSM contributes to the deliverables of the COST CA 16226 SHELD-ON as stated in the MoU, and it contributes to the Work Group (WG) 1 – Furniture and Habitat Industries and WG 2 – ICT.

3.Techniques – what techniques or equipment you may learn to use

The techniques that are going to be used during the STSM research are:
•desk analysis regarding the current state of the art of smart materials, textiles, furniture, smart buildings, that have the potential to assist the elderly.
•research matrix to find the gaps and possibilities for future advancements in the field of smart materials and smart textiles.
•mapping of ITC technology and smart materials and textiles.
•comparisons of ITC technology, sensors and smart materials and textiles.
•semi-structured interview on smart materials and textiles production, ITC technologies and similar topics.

4.Planning – detail the steps you will take to achieve your proposed aim
The STSM research aims to investigate smart textiles for assisting the elderly and their integration in smart furniture and smart homes. The potential and possibilities of smart textiles and materials will be investigated. Also, identification of the possibilities of ITC technology will enable the integration of the smart materials into a smart habitat.

In order to achieve the previously stated aims of the STSM, the following activities will be undertaken, such as:
•Day 1- 4 – Desk analysis and Literature review of the state-of-the-art of smart materials,
•Day 5 – 9 – Literature review of the state-of-the-art of smart textiles.
•Day 10 – 14 – Literature review of the state-of-the-art of available ITC technologies.
•Day 15 – 17 – Literature review on elderly needs in their everyday life.
•Day 18 – 20 – Preparing semi-structured interview questions regarding smart materials, textiles, ITC technologies and sensors.
•Day 21 – 23 – Interviews with colleagues from the Host institution, from different departments regarding smart materials, textiles, ITC technologies and sensors.
•Day 24 – 27 – Mapping the potential smart textiles and materials that could assist the elderly in their every day living and their integration in smart furniture and smart habitats.
•Day 28- 31 – Drafting conclusions of the conducted STSM research.

The work that has been commenced during the STSM is planned to continue after the STSM with the following activities:
•Continuing the communication with the Host on possibilities for future research findings and topics on the domain of smart materials and their integration into smart habitats.
•Writing an STSM report.
•Writing a follow-up paper after the completion of STSM.

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