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Promoting Standardization for Technology-Based Active Assisted Living
What We Can Do Now for a Smart Future

SyC AAL Conference held in Tokyo, 2018

  • Ulrike Haltrich

    EU Technology Standard Office
    Sony Europe B.V.

Escaping the maze of complicated
international standardization

SyC AAL (System Committee Active Assisted Living), currently chaired by Ulrike Haltrich, Sony Europe B.V. is an IEC* committee established in 2015 in light of the rapidly ageing population, and aims to internationally standardize active assisted living. Its focus is not that of individual technologies or products, but more that of a general system standardization. It aims to investigate and resolve complicated issues relating to the interoperability of various devices, services, infrastructure and the like. Haltrich explained to us the reason for Sony participating in this committee. "In this period where the wellness market aiming for QoL improvements and interest in IoT are gaining traction, I felt that working hard towards the development of standardization was essential. Many people's lives have been blessed by telecommunications, AI and other intelligent technologies, but for the elderly and disabled, it allows them not only to improve their independence at home, but also facilitates access to transport and other places outside their home."

*IEC: International Electrotechnical Commission. An organization that prepares and publishes international standards for electrical and electronic technologies, made up of representatives from each participating country's national committee.

Haltrich emphasizes that it is of great benefit if through efforts such as these, companies base their usability and accessibility developments on a set of common guidelines, requirements and standards. "Our world is becoming smarter, and these days, intelligent technology is incorporated more and more into smart city environments, social infrastructure, office buildings and homes. As a result, there is an increasing need for international standards to ensure interoperability, usability and accessibility. I also want to help Sony to build on international standards and regulations to ensure worldwide compliance of our products and services."

Standardization is our moral obligation

In order to address standardization of system-wide issues, SyC AAL brings together a multitude of technology experts from fields such as medical equipment, consumer electronics, the Internet of Things, computer systems and networks. They have an extensive liaisons network with other external standards development organizations and the like, and hold industry-wide workshops at their SyC AAL meetings all over the world. Haltrich-san is also trying to increase awareness in the company by encouraging Sony Group employees to join workshops and holding accessibility workshops at Sony Europe. She works in close collaboration with the APO team (Accessibility Promotion Office) at Tokyo HQ. “After SyC AAL was set up, I also started taking part in the IEC, where we worked on accessibility standards for television. We analyzed how best to accommodate the needs of visual and hearing impaired users’ accessibility and usability requirements to try and improve their experience. In November 2019, I was elected as Chair of IEC TC 100 which is the committee at the forefront of standardization for new video, audio and multimedia technologies. In January 2020, Sony signed on to "The Valuable 500," an initiative created to promote the participation of disabled people in business, this shows Sony’s strong commitment to diversity and inclusion. It is our moral obligation to create a society where everyone including elderly and disabled people can live properly fulfilling lives. In the future, I want to continue contributing to international standardization and enriching people’s daily lives.

Workshop held at Sony Europe in July 2018

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