A magic mirror, custom handles, an assistant robot and indoor walking on snow and grass. These were some of the prototypes tested during the BaltSeanior field tests in Finland, where the University of Skövde participated.
Baltseanior is an EU-funded development project, aimed at facilitating everyday life for seniors in the Baltic Sea Region, and make it possible to stay home for longer. Among other things, several smart furniture has been developed, and those were the ones that were tested in Ulvia in Finland.
-It was incredibly interesting. It is a great opportunity to test products and prototypes on the target group, and also to get important input back, says Jan Sedenka, Lecturer in Business at the University of Skövde and a member in the BaltSeanior team.
The mobile assisting robot was maybe what raised the greatest attention among the seniors. With the help of sensors it can detect if anyone has fallen and go ask if they need some help. If the person says they do, or don’t answer at all, the robot will alarm for help.
Two weeks of testing
The field tests took place 12-23 November in a test apartment where seniors, business representatives and students were given the opportunity to see and try the various prototypes.
On a large touch screen in the living room a computer game was displayed, controlled by the player´s movements sitting on a chair equipped with sensors. One of the steps is about throwing balls against different targets on the screen, something that gave rise to big enthusiasm among the seniors, who arrived on busses from, among others, retirement homes.
-It was amazing to see the engagement when they started to throw balls! They didn’t want to stop. This shows that technology, properly used, can be a fun challenge instead of something difficult and hard, says project assistant Marie Schnell.
Another smart chair reads how the person is sitting, and how the centre of gravity is distributed on arms and legs on the chair. That information can then be sent digitally directly to a doctor for an analysis of the body.
A so called magic mirror was hanging on a wall in the living room. It can display data on the mirror glass and at the same time read the person standing in front of it.
In the kitchen of the apartment there was a demonstration of handles for people who have difficult in grabbing handles when opening cabinets or drawers. The handle size and shape is printed in a 3D printer, and can be adapted to individual needs.
Representatives from BaltSeanior´s team at the University of Skövde were participating during some of the test days, and contributed with a chair developed by a local company and with the tool “Lets have a walk”, which creates the impression of taking an outdoor walk on for example grass or snow, while at the same time the body is activated.
The team members taught that the field test was fruitful.
-We have had successful meetings and tests of prototypes with seniors. This strengthens us in our project, says Lotten Svensson, Project Manager and Senior Lecturer in Business.
BaltSenior includes participants from nine countries with the aim of creating innovative solutions to support entrepreneurship in the Baltic Sea Region, to create comfort and safety for seniors in their homes. The Swedish sector includes the municipalities of Tibro and Lidköping, by an agreement which include municipalities, furniture industry and dementia care. The project will end in April 2019.