Technologies for an aging society: a systematic review of "smart home" applications

Yearb Med Inform. 2008;33-40.


Objectives: A "smart home" is a residence wired with technology features that monitor the well-being and activities of their residents to improve overall quality of life, increase independence and prevent emergencies. This type of informatics applications targeting older adults, people with disabilities or the general population is increasingly becoming the focus of research worldwide. The aim of this study was to provide a comprehensive review of health related smart home projects and discuss human factors and other challenges.

Methods: To cover not only the medical but also the social sciences and electronics literature, we conducted extensive searches across disciplines (e.g., Medline, Embase, CINAHL, PsycINFO, Electronics and Communications Abstracts, Web of Science etc.). In order to be inclusive of all new initiatives and efforts in this area given the innovativeness of the concept, we manually searched for relevant references in the retrieved articles as well as published books on smart homes and gerontechnology.

Results: A total of 114 publications (including papers, abstracts and web pages) were identified and reviewed to identify the overarching projects. Twenty one smart home projects were identified (71% of the projects include technologies for functional monitoring, 67% for safety monitoring, 47% for physiological monitoring, 43% for cognitive support or sensory aids, 19% for monitoring security and 19% to increase social interaction). Evidence for their impact on clinical outcomes is lacking.

Conclusions: The field of smart homes is a growing informatics domain. Several challenges including not only technical but also ethical ones need to be addressed.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Home Care Services*
  • Humans
  • Monitoring, Ambulatory / instrumentation*
  • Protective Devices
  • Self-Help Devices
  • Telemedicine / instrumentation*
  • Telemetry