SOPRANO stands for ‘Service-oriented Programmable Smart Environments for Older Europeans’ and it is an integrated project in the European Commission’s 6th Framework Programme (IST Priority 6th Call on Ambient Assisted Living or AAL). The SOPRANO project sets out to develop and provide highly innovative ambient assistance to a range of living situations. The objective of the SOPRANO project is to develop affordable, smart ICT-based assisted living services with interfaces, which are easy to use for older people and are familiar in their home environment. The Soparno project was started in January 2007, and will have a duration of 40 months.
The societal trends SOPRANO is responding to are the rise in the proportion of older citizens in the population due to demographic change, which is a particularly prent phenomenon in Europe, the scale and type of needs of older citizens which societies must plan to meet, the rejection of current ICT-based services by many older citizens, the steady deterioration of non-ICT-based service provision in the information society, the poverty of offer of ICT-based services usable by older citizens, and the difficulty of designing ICT-based services usable by older citizens. At the same time, research has shown that a large segment of the growing number of older people in Europe can be offered AAL services, which can radically improve their quality of life, provided usability of ICT systems can be radically improved. The opportunity to do this is given by recent developments in ambient intelligence and new abilities of software systems to communicate with users in something approaching natural human to human interaction. The new European Commission’s Programme on AAL, of which SOPRANO is a part, was launched against a background of this accelerating demographic ageing across Europe. The EC research is to show how technologies such as computers, the Internet and mobile communicationswhich are already pervading many aspects of everyday lifecan be used to tackle emerging health problems and in particular contribute to improved quality of life for older people.
SOPRANO develops and adapts to normal home environments a sophisticated range of suitably unobtrusive ambient intelligence components, seamlessly linked to external service provision. A major objective of SOPRANO is to take a leap forward in the way users can interact with and take charge of their living environment and in the way professional care personnel can support them when called on to do so. SOPRANO AAL systems are not only to help users deal with their home environment – its lights, heating, door security, etc. – in comfort and safety, but also to give them improved access to the world outside home, including general online services and new forms of eCare, utilizing ICT-based support from care professionals.
SOPRANO, to be installed in homes, aims to enable provision of flexible, individualised supportive services and healthcare; to promote continued ability to live independently; to help integrate people with functional impairments into social life so as to maximise their independence and help them retain their dignity. Involvement of the community, as well as an older person’s family, neighbours and friends in service provision is part of the approach. Assisted living already serves a broad range of elderly people and provides a bridge between active retirement living and care in a nursing facility.
Three strands of research and development are to be integrated. They are:
Stand alone assistive technology: products designed to compensate for motor, sensory and cognitive difficulties frequently experienced by older adults;
Smart home technology: networking of ICT in the home environment, with the integration of appliances and devices to provide control of the entire living space;
Telecare services: applications addressing care-related needs prent among older people, with ICT utilised to enable support from professionals and informal carers.
The SOPRANO consortium of enterprises, public bodies and research institutes comprises over 20 partners from seven European countries, namely Greece, Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, Spain, Slovenia and Ireland, headed by EXODUS (Greece).