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In Austria about 1.2 percent of the population or a total of ca. 100.000 persons are affected by dementia. With increasing age prevalence is growing, which together with the demographic change, leads to the expectation of an increasing number of people concerned in future.

The maintaining of and motivation to mobility for several reasons can cause at least a delay of the progress of dementia. Lack of movement according to Norton et al. is the one risk factor which is underlying most of the avoidable cases of Alzheimer-Dementia in the USA and Europe. The Austrian Dementia Report points to a risk factor for the development of dementia: „ … less than 20 minutes of brisk exercise on three or more days per week or less than 30 minutes moderate movement on five or more days per week …“.

Because mobility with dementia poses risks like getting lost or falling, previous technical solutions focused mainly on monitoring and restricting or even inhibiting the mobility of persons suffering from dementia. The primary target groups supported are care staff and relatives, making persons with dementia only passive users in the functional chain. Whenever attempts were made to support older persons themselves to stay mobile by technological solutions, Smartphones or Smartwatches were used, which are known to be difficult to handle for these users.

WAY-KEY therefore follows a different approach: open up ways and promoting mobility. That means for persons with light to medium grades of dementia, for which independent mobility is feasible and a legitimate need, to support them in the necessary extent, guide them to their goal but first and foremost back home safely, care for the right amount of movement at the right time. Relatives or care stuff will be involved only as far as necessary. Privacy protection, human dignity, Ethics by Design, Usability and Non-discrimination are the central themes.

To avoid usual problems of acceptance and use, the mobility assistant WAY-KEY will be connected with an article of daily use in such a way that it is highly expectable that it will be carried along by the user outside the home (independent from gender and lifestyle habits) – the key to the apartment or front door, and therefore is constructed in the form of a key fob (as usual with old hotel keys).

The most important functions foreseen are: Base station for retention and wireless charging place and Smart-Home Hub (also for configuration), manual and automatic emergency call, information and motivation, navigation aid to home, function as readable ID and mobility card (taxi, public transport).

The consortium of WAY-KEY aims at making existing technical (partial) solutions of the industrial partners available to persons with dementia and to support them in their mobility by a strong participatory design process together with the scientific partners.  

The project partners are:

  • TU Wien, Institute for Design & Assessment of Technology
  • Accessbile Map Association
  • Academy for Aging Research at Haus der Barmherzigkeit
  • ilogs mobile software GmbH
  • TeleConsult Austria GmbH

Project financing

The WAY-KEY project (project number 854924) is partly funded by the Austrian Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology (externer Link:BMVIT) by means of the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (externer Link:FFG). The project was started in September 2016 and runs for 24 months.

Further information

More details may be found on the external link:website of the project.

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