IoT’s “talking” capabilities

Kostas Giokas is the research team leader of Applied Informatics in m-Health (AiM) at the National Technical University of Athens, and a leader of multiple EU funded research projects. Dr. Giokas will be the General Co-Chair of AALIoT 2016, the EAI International Conference on Ambient Assisted Living Technologies based on Internet of Things (June 14, Budapest, Hungary), co-located with the eHealth 360° Summit 2016. In our interview, he talks about the conference and how advancements in m-Health could help tackle the looming demographic crisis in Europe.

What is the central topic of AALIoT 2016 and why is it important? What is this event’s vision?

The central topic of AALIot 2016 is the presentation of scientific approaches to AAL solutions that are based on IoT. As known sensor-based data collection, aggregation and presentation is undergoing a tremendous change in the past five years. And this is due to the large number of sensors that are available but most importantly due to their ability to send data to repositories for later analysis. However, the main reason for a conference like this is ultimately stemming from the looming demographic problem in Europe. As the birth rate is going down and the life expectancy grows we are steadily moving towards an ageing population with ever increasing healthcare monitoring (and other) needs. Technology is the key enabler for disease prevention and in many cases prolongs the onset of a disease of even reverses it. Chronic diseases (mostly affecting older population) require frequent (or constant) monitoring and this is where IoT comes in and offers great solutions. The main vision of the event is to attract the latest state-of-the-art solutions in AAL-related systems and services with emphasis on those that use IoT technologies.

Kostas Giokas - General Co-chair at AALIoT 2016
Kostas Giokas – General Co-chair at AALIoT 2016

What have been the recent developments in IoT-based ambient assisted living technologies? What are the biggest challenges that this area is currently facing?

One very important development in the field is the increasing use of wearables. In the form of gadgets or smart clothing, health tracking has increased the opportunities for better health while at the same time empowering the patient (or healthy individual) and it has multiplied the sensor data to be aggregated and analyzed. Active clothing is not that new but latest developments in cloud connectivity and material science has brought it closer to the state of the art (e.g. motion sensing clothes or even energy collection clothes, i.e. clothes where sensors are interwoven with the fabric but photovoltaic elements power them. IoT has allowed for real time data collection and especially within a living environment RFID tags offer the unique possibility to the sensors to be aware of the person, so it is actually the Internet itself that is aware of our location and our actions, therefore increasing the IoT’s “talking” capabilities.

I am heavily involved in the health ICT domain but domotics (or home automation) is another interesting field, which in a way is very close to health monitoring. Ambient technology at home usually involves environmental and entertainment controls, security systems, irrigation control and supply management. Ambient Assisted Living specifically aims at increasing the independence of older adults (in their homes), while preventing isolation, with the use of Information and Communication Technologies.

What are your expectations for AALIoT 2016?

We expect to attract high quality papers that present the state of the art in R&D in the field. We would be very much interested in receiving papers for oral and poster presentations for work that is ongoing. We are looking forward for innovative ideas.