GiraffPlus: long-term monitoring and social interaction to improve the elderly's life quality

The GiraffPlus project ( is funded by the European Community within the Framework Programme Seven (FP7) and involves several european countries, research centres, companies and national health services. The scope of the project is promoting the indipendent living of the elderly who often live alone through a long-term monitoring of their activities inside their houses and the prevention of health problems or emergency situations that may arise. Moreover tools for improving the social interaction with relatives, friends and healthcare responsibles are provided.

GiraffPlus consists of an integrated sensors network for monitoring home activities which collects environmental and physiological data together with a telepresence robot with semi-autonomy features that allows virtual visits to the elderly from remote locations.

The environmental sensors installed in the homes detects movements, pressure, power plug usage and opening/closing of doors and windows. Besides that, some additional sensors allow to detect dangerous situations like flooding, smoke, carbon monoxide and falls, triggering immediate alarms. The physiological sensors collect blood pressure measurements, heartbeat rate and the levels of oxigen and sugar in the blood.

The raw data collected by the sensors network is stored in a database upon which other high-level services run. Those services infer the activities and the habits of the elderlies allowing the detection of changes in their routines that could indicate potential health problems.
The data is transmitted through an intermediate software layer (middleware) based on the MQTT protocol (featuring a publish/subscribe model and particularly targeted to IoT applications with low latency and very small overhead). This layer allows the interaction among all the system components: the sensors networks, the database, the data visualization software and the personalization and interaction services.
The interaction services provides the users with tools for setting reminders (for instance to rember to take a pill), asking questions, sending chat messages and performing a remote visit with the robot.

The services offered by the system can be selected beforehand based on each particular situation and it is possible to customize the requirements taking into account the needs of the involved users. A feedback mechanism collects the opinions and the suggestions expressed by the users by inserting them inside the development process and therefore actively contributing to the improvement of the system.

The GiraffPlus system has been installed in 15 homes around Europe, equally distributed among Sweden, Spain and Italy and has to now collected several months of environmental and physiological data.
CNR participates in the project with a joint ISTC (Pisa) and ISTI (Rome) participation.