Midterm Review


Project month 18, that means half-time. And that means midterm review. Representatives from AAL (Active Assistant Living), national funding agencies and two external experts got an impression of our work so far. On nearly 100 PowerPoint slides and three video clips on the prototypes, we presented the progress to date as well as future plans and strategies of CARUcares. The videoconference with 28 participants from 5 countries went smoothly and we were pleased to receive positive first feedback. 

Acceptance Test



Here we go! We want to know more about how end users react to CARU in a real environment. We were able to recruit 25 test persons in three facilities of bonacasa AG in Switzerland. Under curious eyes we installed CARUs in the respective residential units. In the process, we were able to determine a lively interest in and early acceptance of the "new digital roommate". A good prerequisite for a smooth running of the upcoming test phase.

The so-called acceptance test was developed by WU Wienbonacasa AG and CARU AG. The emergency call function is tested, which is triggered via voice with a simple "Help – Help!" and establishes a telephone connection to an emergency call center. In the two-month test period we want to find out whether and in what form the voice-activated emergency call is used and which factors facilitate or hinder its use.

CARU looks like a nice cream jar that I once had. I can still remember the good smell. And now it can even help me if I should get into trouble.

Test participant, 78 years

In an introductory talk we informed the test subjects about the test procedure and introduced them to the functionality of CARU. Of course, our participants' health and safety is our primary concern. Therefore, all project staff members who come into personal contact with test subjects adhere to the regionally applicable COVID-19 measures.

New features for the field test


Now that the co-creation phase has been completed, the next project phase is about to begin. We have broadly discussed our findings from the workshops and interviews with affected care and nursing staff and examined them from different perspectives. We had to clarify conceptual questions and consider technical details so that we can achieve meaningful results in the subsequent field tests. For example, we asked ourselves which keywords CARU should respond to in the future and how useful free text input for care personnel can be.

The following functional enhancements are now on our roadmap:

Extended communication
Finding telephone numbers can often be tedious. For this reason CARU will be able to establish a connection to the hotline of the care facility via voice command. If this happens outside service hours, CARU will automatically record a voice message and transmit it as soon as the service center can be reached again. Vice versa, the service center can also send a voice message to CARU at any time.

Arrival time notification 
With several appointments of mobile care services a week, it can happen that you lose track of the situation. Since the service centers of the nursing services cannot be available around the clock for these requests, CARU will provide information here in the future. The arrival time notification is based on current personnel planning data and current movement data of the nursing staff.

Assistance to the nursing staff
Caregivers have their hands full. Therefore CARU will be able to "read out" task lists. The often annoying use of a smartphone during the visit is no longer necessary and clarity and transparency will be created. In addition, CARU offers the possibility to leave a voice memo to the next caregiver.

With this range of functions we have created a solid basis for reaching the next milestones in the coming months.

1. General Assembly Meeting


Our first CARUcares General Assembly took place on the 16th and 17th of March 2020. Due to the restrictions related to the containment of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, our meeting was not held at the WU Vienna as planned. Therefore, we instead chose to hold a digital meeting via video conference. Despite having to adjust the setting of the meeting overnight to abide by the new regulations, the two-day video conferences proved to be fruitful for all 16 participants. 

The primary focus of these meetings was to discuss the results of our co-creation workshops, which were held in Belgium, Austria and Switzerland over the past several months. The ideas, needs and wishes of care workers, service staff and managers regarding the new CARU functions were presented by the WU Wien and the corresponding technical details were then discussed by the FH Wiener Neustadt  the iHomeLab and CARU AG. In addition, using the MEESTAR model, Johanniter Austria informed the project partners about ethical aspects in product development. Throughout the entire project, we plan to stay in close contact with our future users and interested parties. Therefore, Schneeweis Wittmann has developed a suitable communication concept, which will help to ensure that this succeeds.

Ideas change the world only when they are shared. Participatory research approaches allow us create an atmosphere where all participants can freely share their views, opinions and concerns.

Birgit Trukeschitz from WU Vienna University of Economics and Business

We are now ready to begin developing three additional CARU components, which will incorporate ‘care documentation’, ‘communication’ and ‘arrival notification of care workers and service staff’. In the first step, we will conduct an ‘acceptance test’ in Switzerland to test CARU’s existing emergency call in real-life settings. In a brainstorming session of the General Assembly Meeting, which was grounded in the results of the co-creation workshops, Senior Living Group  bonacasa AG and Johanniter Austria highlighted key performance indicators for the acceptance test from enduser organisations’ perspective. The conceptual framework for the acceptance test is currently still being developed by WU Wien in cooperation with CARU AG and bonacasa AG.

Co-Creation Workshops


By utilizing a user-centric approach throughout the co-creation process, we were able to include the feedback of care workers and service staff in the development of new CARU functions. They provided some insight into their daily tasks and shared their experiences and offered some direction related to care documentation, communication and information needs of clients for arrival notification. 

Creative techniques, such as the Walt Disney Method, helped us to create a stimulating setting for participants to share their ideas and make suggestions regarding the development of new features, while also helping us identify potential challenges. We thus gained very valuable insights into the wishes, needs and working conditions of our end-user partners.

In total, we conducted five workshops in collaboration with the organizations of our end-user partners: two at bonacasa AG in Oensingen (CH), two at Johanniter Austria in Innsbruck (AT) and one at the Senior Living Group in Kontich (BE). The workshops and their schedule were designed by the WU Wien and implemented in the individual countries by the end-user partners together with the technical partners (CARU AGFH Wiener Neustadt and iHomeLab). The documents and presentations for the workshops in the new CARUcares design were provided by Schneeweis Wittmann.  Currently, the evaluation and analysis of the collected data is in progress.

At the co-creation workshops, many relevant inputs from experts were collected. This user-oriented approach is very valuable from bonacasa's perspective. Employees from the service center, the emergency call center and concierges contributed their experience with customers from everyday life. In addition, care specialists from the Roggenpark in Oensingen and the Läbesgarte in Biberist described relevant aspects of outpatient care at home with customers.

Emanuel Gfeller von bonacasa AG

Kick Off Meeting in Zurich


At the Kickoff Meeting in Zurich all project partners from Belgium, Austria and Switzerland met for the first time. We started the first phase of our three-year project in a relaxed atmosphere, with wonderful weather and a good mood.

After getting to know each other for the first time, we were given an insight into the world of CARU. The CARU sensor is the key technology of the CARUcares project. The visions, working methods, and of course, the current state of development were presented. On the second day, each of the partner organizations introduced their institution and their role in the project. Procedures for future cooperation were established, tools for communication were defined, and the next steps were specified.

A thoroughly successful project start!

As project coordinator we are happy to work with this highly motivated and competent team. Together we combine expertise from research and development with the needs of our users and the market. We look forward to pushing the project forward together and developing new functions together with our customers.

Susanne Müller von CARU AG