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Welcome to ASSISTANT Newsletter 3!

The three-year ASSISTANT project is co-funded by the Ambient Assisted Living Joint Programme and national funding authorities of participant countries. ASSISTANT contributes to maintaining the mobility of older people in Europe, to safeguard their social and economic participation in an increasingly ageing society. It does this by helping them to travel safely and independently by public transport.

We are developing applications for the home PC and smartphone to help older people navigate public transport networks. The applications will provide journey planning, guidance on transfers when making a multi-step journey, an alert when it is time to leave a vehicle, and assistance with getting from the vehicle to the final destination. The target group for ASSISTANT is essentially mobile older people, but the system will be designed so that it is accessible for all potential users.

This is the third in a series of 6-monthly newsletters.  To view Newsletter 3 on the ASSISTANT Website please click here.


Latest Project Meeting

The most recent project meeting took place in London, 9-10 December 2013. We had useful discussions within technical sessions relating to system development. We also considered preparation for pilot testing with users, which will be conducted later in Spring 2014. Project staff enjoyed London’s festive atmosphere prior to Christmas.

Thanks to TTR for  hosting the meeting.

ASSISTANT Hits the Half Way Mark

The ASSISTANT project is now half way through its life project. The initial demonstration system of ASSISTANT product was presented at a mid-term review by our co-funders, the AAL-JP. Running on an Android smartphone and a browser, the demo system allowed a user to plan online a route in the Helsinki public transit system at a given time. This route could then be moved to a smartphone and at the right time the trip initiated. The demo system did not, however, actually use real-time vehicle location data to guide the trip.

The request for the route can be made from any browser (figure 1). This sends the request to Helsinki’s application programming interfaces (API, which specifies how software components should interact with each other). Then a route is returned to the browser based on the day and time the trip is planned. On the browser the user can send the route to the smartphone (see figure 2). This outputs an audio alert upon receiving a new route and presents an interface to allow the user to accept the route into his/her phone.  The route planner remembers previously used routes and users can mark some routes as their favourites.

Figure 1 - Route editor Figure 2 - ASSISTANT on a smartphone

This initial demo will be followed up with a full pilot system that includes real-time guidance and support for users if they get off route. Detecting when the user has gone off route and then correcting this is an important feature for ASSISTANT, as it makes public transport safer to use for older people. The ASSISTANT system will be implemented in Helsinki, Vienna, and San Sebastian, and used in field evaluations to be conducted in the spring.


User Involvement

ASSISTANT technology is created with a user-centred approach. This means that the end users of the solution are included in the various project development phases, which enables us to design a tool that corresponds to end users' needs and skills. Throughout the project, representatives of user groups, who are mobile older persons aged between 65 and 90, are invited to take part in different design and testing sessions. These are organised in France, Spain, Austria and Finland.

In the early project phase, during late 2012, end user representatives were interviewed in Paris and in Vienna to deepen the project partners' understanding about user profiles and habits, and their requirements with regard to ASSISTANT. Furthermore, three sessions of focus groups were organised in Spain, Austria and France. During these sessions, participants exchanged their ideas about mock-ups of the ASSISTANT user interface. All data processed from these discussions was analysed and mock-ups taken into consideration in the ASSISTANT technology development phase.

Once the ASSISTANT prototype is ready, during spring 2014, users will be invited to participate in field tests in Spain, Austria and Finland. These trials in a semi-controlled environment will enable us to test accessibility and usefulness of ASSISTANT. Users will be able to trial ASSISTANT in real conditions, while we will shadow them to understand and analyse their behaviour regarding the application. These experiences with end users are very valuable for the project, as user-centred design is one of the key elements of ASSISTANT. 


On the Road Again!
The Human Factor

Phil Barham, TTR, presented ASSISTANT at the Annual Meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (Europe Chapter). This conference was hosted by the Centro Ricerche Fiat (Fiat Research Centre). It was held in the Museo Nazionale dell' Automobile (National Automobile Museum), Turin, Italy, 16-18 October 2013.

The specific theme of this year's event was "Sustainable Life and Mobility", and so the objectives of ASSISTANT were very relevant . Phil's paper, ASSISTANT – Creating a Smartphone App to Assist Older People when Travelling, was presented as part of the session on User Experience. Although the presentation occupied the penultimate slot in what was a marathon three-day event, it attracted a great deal of interest from the audience.

A formal paper was produced from this presentation. This is included in the Conference Proceedings, for which Phil was co-editor. These will be available on the HFES website

From Paris to Shanghai...

ASSISTANT also attracted interest at a day of conferences regarding new technologies to improve the lives and independence of older people. Flyers and other project information were given to participants. This event was organised by project partner e-Seniors on 17 October 2013 in Paris, France.

The 10th International Symposium on Location Based Services, included a project presentation by Wolfgang Kainz, University of Vienna. Held on 21-22 November in Shanghai, this event brought together researchers, students industry / market operators and from different disciplines to exchange knowledge and ideas on Location Based Services and their influence on science and society. 

Assistant at the AAL Forum

ASSISTANT exhibited a booth at the Annual Forum 2013 of our co-funder, the AAL JP. The Forum took place over 24 - 26 September. Thanks to VTT for representing ASSISTANT. Those delegates who visited the both were very in ASSISTANT and VTT had several good long discussions with other project presenters. VTT were also able to attend a number of Forum sessions and learn about some similar projects. 

Keep Informed!
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There are several ways you can find our more information about  ASSISTANT:

- to receive ASSISTANT newsletters subscribe here or email to be added to the distribution list
- visit our website at:
- to join the ASSISTANT group on Linked In, please visit
- you can also follow us on Twitter at:


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