Active & Healthy Ageing

The promotion of Active and Healthy Ageing (AHA) is a top priority for the EU since the number of people aged 60 increases by 2 million every year. It is becoming increasingly important to enable people to stay independent for longer.

Healthy ageing can be supported by ambient intelligent systems which are able to accomplish the intelligent identification and fulfilment of the needs of human being. In case of elderly people, these systems enable their remote surveillance by making their stay at home possible and alarming the social or medical staff only in case of emergency.

Our approach

Healthy ageing supported by Ambient Intelligence (AmI) systems composed by electronic surveillance, recording, and data transmission tools has been in the focus of research at HETFA. The functioning of such as system is affected by technological development and innovation. It also raises questions related to norms, values, and the limits of privacy. These issues span several fields of research, such as ethics, law, public policy, economics, etc.

The approach of HETFA can be described as multi-disciplinary research involving behavioural science, sociology, health sciences and other relevant disciplines. It also relies on stakeholders’ engagement.

Our research aim is to overcome the dichotomy of technophily and technophoby. To be more precise, the main focus of societal concerns about ambient intelligence systems can be articulated around the following issues: (1) privacy and personal data; (2) human autonomy and personal liberty; (3) control and power; (4) responsibility; and (5) reproduction of social inequalities.

The introduction of AmI systems also needs formalized risk assessment and management support. However, the usual methods of social sciences are not well-suited to analyse a product which is still in the process of development. Although HETFA has also relied on conventional methods of sociology, such as semi-structured interviews and focus groups, our research team have developed the application of methods that have been used mainly by other disciplines, such as (1) scenario analysis, (2) risk filtering (a supplementary tool of scenario analysis), (3) cultural probes, and (4) citizens’ jury.

Based on our dense networks in urban and rural areas of Hungary we have good relationships with end-user organizations and administrative actors of the institutional system for elderly care. We are also experienced in testing and assessing the acceptance of new AAL applications among different end-user groups.

Leading researchers



Research on the Social and Medical Aspects of Ambient Intelligent Applications – BelAmI project

HETFA Researchers contributed to the project BelAmI ( by examining the social and medical aspects of ambient intelligent applications in the frame of the Research on the Social and Medical Aspects of Ambient Intelligent Applications.

The aim of the research project was threefolded:

(1) investigating the need for Ambient Intelligence (AmI), i.e. exploring factors such as decreasing intergenerational solidarity, a growing need for psychological care and community integration, the need for high-standard, quick and efficient medical services at home;

(2) identifying the type of service which could provide AmI, i.e. establishing a connection between social and medical care;

(3) investigating the ethical aspects of the application, i.e. dealing with problems of trust and latchkey; control; and financing.

Further investigated questions included (1) the identification of societal groups concerned; (2) the acceptance of AmI applications among end users; (3) the relationship between the end user and the service; (4) the protection of personal data; (5) the financing of AmI applications; and (6) strategic analyses for marketing.

Related Projects and Publications

The Role of Ambient Intelligence in the Home-Based and Institutional Care of the Elderly. An Overview of the State-of-Art in Hungary’

Ubiquitous Computing has been perceived as a threat to personal privacy, whereas the role of “trade-off” in accepting these solutions have also been analysed. The protection of privacy is of utmost importance in modern societies. As a result, there are several factors enhancing end-users’ trust and their willingness to accept the restriction of their privacy and also to give up the partial control of their personal data: people’s self-perception as ill and vulnerable, perceived risks of being alone, as well, as the wish to become mobile, are all crucial components in this “trade-off” of privacy for security.

However, the most important result of case studies conducted among end-users is that end-users are less aware of privacy issues than scientists or NGOs would assume. Perceived risks of illness and that of loneliness are the bases of trade-off-s.

Abstract available in English

Presentations on the main findings: