SONOPA project

AAL Call 5


List of participants:


Participant organisation name

Organisation type



Docobo Limited (Coordinator)

SME and End-user



University of Twente




Smart Signs




University of Deusto

















SME and End-user



IBBT/Ghent University

Research Organization




SME and End-user



Official website


SOcial Networks for Older adults to Promote an Active Life (SONOPA) aims to employ a set of available ICT technologies to develop an end-to-end solution for stimulating and supporting activities at home. SONOPA aims to achieve its objective through a data collection and fusion structure which merges real measurements of the userís activities in order to encourage activities with their peers. Reminders and recommendations come through personalized easy-to-use wall displays placed at the user home. SONOPA will employ data analysis techniques to derive a model for the wellness of the user along four dimensions: social, eating, leisure habits and mobility. This model will enable the system to track variations in the daily activities over time in order to detect the right time to provide a recommendation. This allows for timely access to quantitative data from the user and allows the activation of individual and social recommendations. Technologies include: (i) measurement systems which monitor and register the activities of the user at home and with their peers, (ii) behavior modeling and user profiling techniques, which produce a pattern of userís activities over time by analyzing and summarizing the large sensory data and registered logs; and (iii) a user interface which provides personalized recommendations and reminders encouraging activities to the user. The offered recommendations can be in the form of suggesting individual activities at home, such as preparing meals or social interactions with peers, such as setting up a board game at home. The SONOPA consortium consists of selected partners, with complementary expertise and skill sets, which provide a comprehensive coverage of the end-to-end needs to develop and deploy the system and test its performance, as well as investigate the benefits and user acceptance issues.


1.1 A short summary description of the overall idea and implementation of the proposal in relation to AAL technology and the end-user(s).

It is estimated that Europeans aged 65 years and older will increase by a percentage of 79%, namely from 84.6 million to 151 million. The population of Europeans older than 80 years of age is estimated to increase with a percentage of 181%, namely from 21.8 to 61.4 million [1]. In some EU countries, for instance in the UK, more than 80% of people aged between 65 and 74 years do not meet the recommended level of physical activity as is reported in [2]. Promoting the physical activity of elderly people is one of the key elements for them to gain confidence and maintain autonomy [3].

ICT technologies may play a key role to keep elderly people active longer in a personal and social sense and to improve their wellness. Since people like to remain in their home as long as possible is important to be happy and active at home. An elderly person living alone at their home commonly suffer from depression and loneliness feelings and is often difficult to motivate themselves to stay active. Social networking can help seniors stay in touch with relatives and friends, making new friends, and thus overcome social isolation. They are also a powerful tool to stimulate Activities of Daily Living (ADL) to the users since the participation in a community life can stimulate elderly stay longer active and independent. This project focuses on the creation of a social network application targeting the needs for elderly people with the goal to sustain older adults to continuously managing their activities as long as possible.



Modern social networking applications provide some opportunities to meet others in their neighborhood. But, these applications are often too complicated to use as they do not consider increasing the disabilities of elderly people. Common disabilities are decreasing mobility, memory loss, hearing loss and the decrease of vision. Adequate social networks have to provide simple user interfaces, personalize them to their disability characteristics, suggest and stimulate appropriate activities and finally preserve the user from complex management and configuration tasks by exploiting knowledge about their behavior routines as much as possible. The idea of this project is to develop an easy-to-use social network for elderly people which stimulates, encourages, arranges and promotes ADL. We propose to combine social networks with a smart home environment making heavy use of motion sensors, door openers, smart signs and video conferencing, thus moving virtual activities closer to the real world of the elderly people.

The main innovative aspects of this project, relative to other existing solutions, are the automatic and proactive recommendation module that suggests an activity to the user. This module continuously monitors indoor mobility of elderly people and suggests activities to them when their activity level is decreasing, with the aim of maintaining their well-being and health. This will be done by adopting a user-centric approach which means that in parallel to developing the system to assist the elderly in promoting activities in their daily life, we will also study user acceptance issues and implement field trials to understand the preferences of the users and improve the system according to their needs. The planned field tests and user studies in two countries in Europe will offer an insight into the variations of use cases across a diverse set of European geographic and social demography.

In particular, our target groups are those old adults living alone at home which perform daily activities on their own but they are starting to report some problems. Regarding the type of ADL, we are going to focus on the ability to prepare adequate meals and to carry out leisure activities.

The project includes several phases of testing the proposed solution with real end-users, as the system is developed, in order to study user acceptance issues and validate the performance metrics. In an early phase of the system, user ADL data will be collected to evaluate the algorithms of behavior modeling and wellness shift detection. In the overall validation phase of the project the usersí acceptance of the system and the feasibility and efficacy of the ADL recommendations and their personalization will be investigated through interactions with end-users. This project aims to help maintain the user's ADL level through interactions and social recommendations. It also aims to provide quantitative data about the history of the userís ADL which can support informal cares to identify and help seniors who may be in the early stage of cognitive or mental conditions such as Alzheimerís or depression. Such diseases are often associated with a clear lack of energy and therefore with a decrease in the level of ADL. This solution will have a direct impact on the userís everyday life and empowers the elderly to conduct an autonomous and active life at their own home.


1.2 An example scenario

In the following two example scenarios we illustrate the benefit of integrating social networks for elderly people with an smart home environment and an intelligent behavior analysis.


Example 1: Monitoring of user activities

Mr. Smith who is 77, lives alone in his home, is a little depressed because his friends live far away and he seldom has the opportunity to meet them, because of his increasing disabilities. Fortunately, his family told him about the new social network for elderly people named SONOPA, which encourages better contacts between elderly in the close neighborhood, i.e. it is a location-aware social network for elderly people. After installing the smart home infrastructure, Mr. Smith provides some basic user information about him including a zip code as a simple location indicator. Since Mr Smith requires a walking stick he is very pleased that the door openers ease the access to the rooms everywhere in the house. In addition, door openers function together with furniture sensors e.g. table sensors. SONOPA fuses these data together to construct daily behavior profiles of the elderly person(s) living in the home. From these behavior profiles SONOPA is able to identify task preferences (based on the overall time spent with the task) or time intervals when the user is actually bored e.g. spending endless time in front of the television. SONOPA compares user and behavior profiles with other elderly people in the neighborhood and introduces Mr. Willson to Mr. Smith, who has similar interests. Mr. Smith is happy to see the profile of Ms. Willson as they both enjoy TV documentaries and brain games like memory. Both confirm their interest in meeting and the system adds them to their personal buddy lists. Based on the calculated free time detected in their behavior profiles, the system suggests them to meet for some memory games available in the SONOPA system. By meeting each other online Mr. Smith and Ms. Willson become better acquainted and share even more activities online and offline together.


Example 2: Sharing and supporting of daily activities

Elderly people like Mr. Smith enjoy support in their daily activities, as their capabilities become unfortunately more limited with increasing age. An important aspect of any support system is however, that it tries to keep interruptions of current activities as small as possible. The door openers with their mobility sensors and furniture sensors play hereby an important role. With them, SONOPA knows always the current activity of the user since the location (room + furniture) of the user is closely related with his activity. Because of this system capability, the human-computer interface of SONOPA can always follow the user. For Mr. Smith. who enters the kitchen to prepare lunch this is an important key feature.

The smart sign of the kitchen switches on when he enters the kitchen. SONOPA also starts the shared cooking app recommending him with some basic recipes and if needed a step-by-step guide for cooking. The social network infrastructure also starts the buddy lists of his friends in the neighborhood who are also in the kitchen at that moment. This allows Mr. Smith, for instance, to ask Ms. Willson through the video conferencing unit who happens to be also in the kitchen at that moment to ask for some advice for preparing some seafood. Both enjoy cooking together and decide to prepare further meals and meet later in one of the other homes.

After the friends meeting, SONOPA asks to select some pictures from the event and comment on it. This information is shared within the social network as a nice memorization together with some photographs taken during the event. Showing this information other elderly persons get aware of this event and may join in future events. Altogether, Mrs. Willson is very happy that the local authority has recommended her SONOPA. This social network is simpler to use than conventional social networks systems as is developed taking into account elderly users requirements. Thanks to SONOPA, Mr. Smith starts enjoying cooking again.


Figure Mrs. Wilson and Mr.Thompson during the shared cooking activity




Summary of key benefits derived from scenario

         Human computer interaction adapted to the needs of elderly people: The interaction with SONOPA is proactive (evaluating behavior profiles) and can be controlled by the user through pressing a button that trigger required steps to perform an ADL such as cooking a cake, playing a memory game, watching television, going to bed or leaving the house.

         Behavior awareness enables relevant and timely matchmaking between elderly people: the monitoring system is aware of the user level activity on real-time.

         Smart home environment based on door openers (the sensor platform) and telepresence, which enable comfortable life and allow anywhere at any time contact with informal cares.

         Assistive technologies based on suggestions, reminders and task guidance allow old adults to stay longer independent and participate in community life.

         Integrated video conference system, smart signs and shared apps enable rich user experiences: By providing a cloud computing application system we can deploy the latest applications to user.

         Help old adults to meet their neighbors and new friends through automatic introduction systems, online meeting services and shared applications.