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Development and evaluation of SOA-based AAL services in real-life environments: A Case study and lessons learned


The proper use of ICT services can support seniors in living independently longer. While such services are starting to emerge, current proprietary solutions are often expensive, covering only isolated parts of seniors' needs, and lack support for sharing information between services and between users. For developers, the challenge is that it is complex and time consuming to develop high quality, interoperable services, and new techniques are needed to simplify the development and reduce the development costs. This paper provides the complete view of the experiences gained in the MPOWER project with respect to using model-driven development (MDD) techniques for Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) system development in the Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) domain.

METHOD: To address this challenge, the approach of the European research project MPOWER (2006-2009) was to investigate and record the user needs, define a set of reusable software services based on these needs, and then implement pilot systems using these services. Further, a model-driven toolchain covering key development phases was developed to support software developers through this process. Evaluations were conducted both on the technical artefacts (methodology and tools), and on end user experience from using the pilot systems in trial sites.

RESULTS: The outcome of the work on the user needs is a knowledge base recorded as a Unified Modeling Language (UML) model. This comprehensive model describes actors, use cases, and features derived from these. The model further includes the design of a set of software services, including full trace information back to the features and use cases motivating their design. Based on the model, the services were implemented for use in Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) systems, and are publicly available as open source software. The services were successfully used in the realization of two pilot applications. There is therefore a direct and traceable link from the user needs of the elderly, through the service design knowledge base, to the service and pilot implementations. The evaluation of the SOA approach on the developers in the project revealed that SOA is useful with respect to job performance and quality. Furthermore, they think SOA is easy to use and support development of AAL applications. An important finding is that the developers clearly report that they intend to use SOA in the future, but not for all type of projects. With respect to using model-driven development in web services design and implementation, the developers reported that it was useful. However, it is important that the code generated from the models is correct if the full potential of MDD should be achieved. The pilots and their evaluation in the trial sites showed that the services of the platform are sufficient to create suitable systems for end users in the domain.

CONCLUSIONS: A SOA platform with a set of reusable domain services is a suitable foundation for more rapid development and tailoring of assisted living systems covering reoccurring needs among elderly users. It is feasible to realize a tool-chain for model-driven development of SOA applications in the AAL domain, and such a tool-chain can be accepted and found useful by software developers.


Academic article


  • Research Council of Norway (RCN) / 174934





  • SINTEF Digital / Software Engineering, Safety and Security
  • Universitetet i Tromsø - Norges arktiske universitet
  • Austrian Institute of Technology
  • Croatia



Published in

International Journal of Medical Informatics










e269 - e293

View this publication at Cristin