uStore: Online services for the elderly

IBM researcher Roni Ram
Editor's note: This article is by Roni Ram, a research staff member in the Smarter Healthcare and Life Sciences group at IBM Research - Haifa.
The United Nations predicts that the number of people over the age of 60 will triple by the end of the century. And with that increase in life expectancy, also comes the need to easily deliver ambient-assisted living (AAL) products and services for senior citizens. So, IBM and EU decided to get decades ahead of this need by creating the uStore.

Developed as part of our work on the EU universAAL research project, the uStore is a platform upon which organizations, local governments, or businesses can offer a wide variety of these AAL services and products. Think of the uStore as an online marketplace where people can browse, purchase, and review AAL services offered by a variety of providers. 

Built on top of IBM's Websphere Commerce, uStore is a customizable and scalable e-commerce platform that allows vendors to serve the elderly and their families by making digital and human-provided AAL services easily available. When using uStore, users can order or download and setup AAL services as easily as purchasing and installing apps on a mobile device or home computer.

Just imagine this situation: Your elderly father has just been released from the hospital, and he returns to his home, where he has lived on his own for several years. He wants to stay at home and maintain his independence, so he uses uStore for everything from health monitoring and doctor appointment scheduling, to online chats with other users.  

uStore developers and service providers can make available a range of services designed to aid with daily activities, health, and social interactions. Senior citizens and their families can visit the uStore site to learn more about various services, such as home medical visits, remote technical assistance, personal nutrition applications, and more. On the site, users can also view and participate in online forums with discussions and reviews of services, make requests for new products and needs, get feedback, and purchase the solutions they want.

uStore creates a loop between the services deployment platform, the services offered, the service providers, and the end customers. The uStore code was officially released as part of the universAAL project and is currently available for download.

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