Acceptance of Assistive Technologies

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Against the backdrop of an aging society, where both public resources and the number of care workers available are dwindling, assistive technologies to help older people in their everyday lives will become more and more valuable. So far so good. But how would you feel, for example, if a robot rather than a real person was helping to dress your dependent grandmother? If you had Alzheimer’s disease would you like to be equipped with a GPS transmitter so that your relatives are aware at all times of where you are?

When it comes to assistive technologies and robotics, the issue of acceptance is inevitable. Research in terms of end user acceptance has produced initial findings on functionality and added value, ease of use and suitability for daily use, safety and legal aspects, costs and financing issues, stigmatization and image issues, and, last but not least, ethical aspects.
On the other hand, research has paid little attention to acceptance by other stakeholders, although the diversity of their requirements could lead to other acceptance criteria or to a shift in emphasis. Let us take a closer look at the above-mentioned example of a GPS transmitter for patients with Alzheimer’s disease: while relatives might be quick to agree, the law sees this type of detection as an unmistakable attack on the core area of a person’s private life, and thus illegal. The care system brings a wide range of stakeholders and interest groups together, e.g., service providers, local authorities, companies that develop and sell technology, insurance companies, volunteers, policy-makers, and end users.
The International Design Center Berlin aims to advance this research within the framework of the DAA project and extend the criteria for acceptance. Apart from extending the set of criteria, the goal of the project-based research and of the Co-Creation Workshop in Berlin is to make recommendations for action that will be crucial to the future success of innovations in the field of AAL (Ambient Assisted Living).

Stakeholder Workshop
The co-creation workshop took place on 25 October 2013 in Berlin.
Although several studies have been carried out on user requirements and integrated into AAL developments, few of these developments have so far reached the market. One reason is that not all stakeholders see the benefits of pushing AAL onto the market, be it the health or the housing sector. Against this background, the workshop identified and prioritized key acceptance criteria, facilitators and barriers from the different stakeholder perspectives.
36 participants from 9 European countries attended the workshop and brought in different perspectives: people who work for focused stakeholders (Municipalities, City Councils, Insurances, SME, Project Execution Organizations, Social Services, Care Institutions) and those involved in research (Design, Innovation Management, Technology, Ageing) on AAL. Hence the workshop brought a wide variety of AAL sector stakeholders together, all of them closely linked to the focus groups. The findings of the workshop are summarized in the final report that can be downloaded here.

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