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round 80 million people in the EU, a sixth of its

population, have a disability. They are often hindered from

full social and economic participation by various barriers

related to physical, psychological and social factors. Moreover,

poverty rates amongst people with disabilities are 70% higher

than average.


Over 30% of people above the age of 75 are

impaired to some extent, and over 20% are severely impaired. The

percentage of people with disabilities is set to rise as the EU

population ages.

According to Article 9 of the United Nations Convention on the

Rights of Persons with Disabilities signed by the European

Commission in 2010,


‘accessibility’ is a basic right for all

persons with disabilities. The purpose of accessibility is to enable

persons with disabilities to live independently and to participate

in all aspects of life.

Nowadays, the recent trends in assistive technology for supporting

activities of daily living (ADL), mobility, communication and so on

are based on the integration of the capabilities of the user and

the assistive technologies.


The improvement of the interaction

and co-operation between user and assistive technologies can be

split into three main areas: 1) improvements of the assistive

devices, such as mechanical parts, electronic parts, etc.; 2)

improvements of the user-technology interface; and 3) improved

shared control between the user and assistive technology.

The AIDE project has the ambition to strongly contribute to the

improvement of the user-technology interface by developing and

testing a revolutionary modular and adaptive multimodal

interface customisable to the individual needs of people with

disabilities. It will, furthermore, focus on the development of a

totally new shared control paradigm for assistive devices that

integrates information from the identification of residual abilities,

behaviours, emotional state and intentions of the user on one

hand and analysis of the environment and context factors on the

other hand.


The AIDE consortium consists of nine groups from four different

countries (Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and Germany):


Five universities: Universidad Miguel Hernández de Elche,

Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Università Campus Bio-Medico di

Roma, Universitat Politècnica de València, and Eberhard Karls

Universität Tübingen;


One research and development centre: Fraunhofer-Institut für

Produktionstechnik und Automatisierung;


One large industrial partner: ZED Worldwide S.A.;


One SME: BJ Adaptaciones; and


One non-profit organisation working with disabled people: The

Cedar Foundation.

The AIDE project co-ordinator is Professor Nicolas Garcia-Aracil,

who leads the Rehabilitation and Assistive Robotic Unit of the

Biomedical Neuroengineering group at the Miguel Hernández

University of Elche and has already participated in other Seventh

Framework Programme projects.

Concept and approach

The World Health Organization (2002) introduced the

International Classification Of Functioning (ICF),


Disability And

Health to specify changes in body function and experiences. This

classification allows evaluating what potential end users of the

AIDE system could achieve in a standard environment (level of

capacity), and compares it to what they actually do in their usual

environment (level of performance). AIDE shares the ICF concept,

focusing on health and functioning rather than on disability,

synthesising the key elements and understanding derived from a

medical and social model of disability.

The AIDE concept goes beyond the current state-of-the-art in

using a novel modular multimodal perception system to

customise an adaptive multimodal interface towards disabled

people’s needs (Fig. 1). The multimodal interface will analyse and

extract relevant information from the identification of residual

abilities, behaviours, the emotional state and intentions of the

user, as well as from analysis of the environment and context

Navigating everyday life is something most people take for granted, but there are

those who need assistance with basic tasks.The AIDE project works to bring

independence to people with disabilities

The gift of assistance



H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L


M E D I C A L T E C H N O L O G Y & R E S E A R C H

Fig. 1 One of the multiple applications of the AIDE multimodal

perception system is a remote control of a robotic device designed for

people unable to speak (due to a speech disorder or aphasia) and

without functional control of the arm. The multimodal interface will be

able to understand the environment and context to automatically

recognise the necessary abilities for different activities of daily living.

This way, the signals received from the user will be contextualised to

interpret the user intentions and execute the desired activity