AAL is one of the major emerging technology markets of the moment, offering the potential to enable and empower citizens in their daily lives using state-of-the-art technologies. Known as 'assistive technologies' in some areas, AAL facilitates everyday activities for people who require care and support, augmenting their quality of life and assisting their independence.
Thanks to advances in medicine and improved knowledge of the links between lifestyle and health, a large proportion of the world is living longer. Diseases like Alzheimer's naturally increase proportionally with life expectancy and this has huge implications for those affected, their family, the healthcare sector and society in general. Those using wheelchairs or with conditions such as autism and Down's syndrome can also benefit from AAL, as these novel technologies can be used to support independence inside and outside the hom when travelling or at work – stimulating socialisation and promoting more positive lifestyles.
Perhaps the most compelling case for AAL is the use of smart homes to support independent living for people of older age, but many other applications exist or are in development. Billions of euros have been invested in the technologies through the European Union's Framework Programmes since 2007, such as the three-year Poseidon project currently supported by Middlesex University. These projects are bringing a proliferation of new systems, requiring a combination of new equipment, software, interfaces, and services.