BSEE Armin Anders, vice president business development, EnOcean GmbH

MEDICAL & HEALTHCARE Independence in old age with smart homes

Independence in everyday life is an important factor, especially for the elderly. Modern technology, so called Ambient Assisted Living, can be a great support here and contribute to an increase in wellbeing.

increasingly important role, made possible by the use of comprehensive sensor data. This data is used in functional buildings primarily to save costs and energy. In the smart home, the focus is more on the needs of the residents, on their comfort and security. Ambient Assisted Living belongs to the latter category, as the focus is more on safety, comfort and independence rather than on efficiency and savings. The megatrend "Ageing Society" poses major challenges for the care sector. The world's population is getting older and there are more people in need of care, but the number of available care personnel is not increasing alongside. As a result, healthcare for the elderly is becoming more expensive. In contrast, an increasing amount of people in old age also want to stay in their familiar living environment for as long as possible.


Modern technology can help to support suitable solutions. Developments and innovations from the fields of building automation and smart home can make an important contribution here. Wireless sensor solutions based on the EnOcean wireless standard can be easily retrofitted and can thus help to improve the quality of life of people in everyday life, especially in old age. These solutions can also provide support, if not relief, for relatives and nursing staff.

Security and comfort at home  even in old age

Movement sensors in mattresses and rooms, presence and fall detectors or flexibly mounted emergency call and control buttons provide the important and necessary information to enable safe and comfortable living in one's own home even in old age. It is important that this support is integrated into everyday life as a matter of course. Another significant aspect is the simple and intuitive operation of the devices, comparable to smartphone apps.

oday, intelligent sensor technology can be found worldwide in smart homes, office buildings, modern building control systems and the industry 4.0. The networking of intelligent devices is playing an

The smart home can be the right solution for this. The intelligent control of light, heating, blinds and other electrical devices increases the living comfort of the entire family. This can be easily and unobtrusively supplemented with helpers for older people. These could be sensors that record activity and well-being, for example. One advantage is that they only provide assistance when needed and in emergencies.

Flexibly retrofiable radio systems

An important requirement for such solutions is that they can be easily retrofitted, both in the home and in care facilities. This enables people in need of help to live as independently as possible in their familiar surroundings for as long as possible. Such flexible solutions are also advantageous for certain care facilities, but in the event of retrofitting, everyday operations must be influenced and disturbed as little as possible. For this reason, wired systems are not suitable for retrofitting, as the effort would be far too great to equip each individual sensor with a cable. In addition, a large part of the flexibility would be lost, since once installed, sensors would be very difficult to move to another location. Wireless systems clearly have the edge here: Without being tied to cable locations, switches as well as smoke detectors, and sensors for presence, temperature, air quality and light are maintenance-free and can be flexibly installed exactly where they are really needed, even on furniture, glass or doors: e.g. a motion detector for light control on the bed frame or a touch sensor integrated in the mattress for light and heating control which also signals if the elderly person lies down for an unusually long period of time in the morning or leaves the bed unexpectedly at night. At the same time, such sensors can also be retrofitted into existing systems at any time.

Operation completely without batteries

Many solutions that work without an external power supply have one major disadvantage: batteries generate the energy required for the switches and sensors. This has a negative impact on maintenance costs on the one hand and on the environment on the other. Batteries have to be checked and replaced regularly, which is an enormous amount of work and effort with a large number of sensors. The disposal of batteries is also quite costly, as they must not be thrown into normal household waste due to their toxic and environmentally harmful content. EnOcean is taking a completely different approach here: The wireless switches and sensors


gain and store even the smallest amount of energy from the environment. When a switch is pressed, the electromechanical energy converter inside converts movement into energy. This signal can be used to switch domestic appliances and lights on and off, for example. Smallest solar cells in the modules can use even low light intensities of 50 lux as an energy source. These can be temperature, CO2 and presence sensors, for example, but also solar-based window contacts or humidity sensors. However, sensors can also be operated without batteries if the light supply is too low: a temperature difference of just two degrees Celsius provides enough energy to operate and run a self-powered heating valve.

Automated support in everyday life

Thanks to radio operation, these solutions can be adapted step by step to changing needs. Lights can be automatically switched on and off using presence detectors, and magnetic contacts on windows and doors help to automatically turn down the heating when the window is open or when everyone has left the house. When no one is at home, all electrical appliances such as the cooker and washing machine can be switched off for safety. Many older people have a strong desire to stay in their familiar surroundings for as long as possible. Various applications based on the EnOcean wireless standard can help make this a reality.


With the help of modern technologies, people can remain independent even in old age. These include easily retrofittable wireless sensors, which are becoming increasingly important in the Ambient Assisted Living sector and offer older people a high degree of independence and comfort. However, this form of support should not be imposed and should not invade the privacy of the individual (such as cameras). Sensor solutions based on the EnOcean wireless standard are particularly suitable for this type of application. Once set up and commissioned, the battery-free wireless sensors operate completely maintenance- free and provide reliable data for controlling and monitoring the health status of people in need of help. Relatives and nursing staff are thus informed accordingly. With the ever-evolving EnOcean ecosystem with interoperable wireless solutions, people in need of help receive the support they need for more comfort and security in their own homes, not only in old age. Read the latest at:

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