Architecting Smart Home Environments for Healthcare : A Database-Centric Approach

Abstract: The development of system architectures and applications for smart homes and ambient assisted living has been the main activity of a number of academic and industrial research projects around the world. Existing system architectures for smart environments usually employ different architectural styles in a multi-layer logical architecture to support the integration and interoperation of heterogeneous hardware and software technologies, which are subsequently used to provide two major functionalities: monitoring and assistance. It is also usual among existing architectures that the database management system is the most common but the least exploited architectural component, existing in the periphery of the system and devoted exclusively for data storage and retrieval. However, database technology has advanced and matured considerably over the years, and, as a result, current database management systems can be and do more.This thesis considers the hypothesis of several features of modern database management systems being employed to address functional (e.g. well-being and security monitoring, automated control, data processing) and non-functional (e.g. interoperability, extensibility, data security and privacy) requirements of smart environments, i.e. the database management system serves as a platform for smart environments. The scope of this thesis is therefore to investigate the possibility of using different features supported by database management systems to create a database-centric system architecture for the development of smart home environments and ambient assisted living. The thesis also investigates the development of applications for health monitoring and assistance: 1) a serious game for fall prevention that assists people in practicing Tai Chi at home, and 2) a non-intrusive home-based method for sleep assessment.These features are explored in this thesis to address general functional aspects of smart environments, such as monitoring, processing, coordination and control of various types of events in a given environment. Extensibility and security features and cross-platform capabilities of database management systems are employed to accommodate non-functional, but still technical, properties of smart environments, including interoperability, extensibility, portability, scalability, security and privacy. Heterogeneous technologies are integrated into the system using programming language and platform independent software resource adapters. Interoperation among integrated technologies is mediated in an active database.The feasibility of the proposed database-centric system architecture was pragmatically investigated with the development of a "smart bedroom'' demonstrator and with the implementation of a number of short-term and long-term types of services to support active aging, aging in place and ambient assisted living. In the proposed architecture, active in-database processing maintains sensitive data within the database. This increases data security and independence from external software applications for data analysis. Changes in the system are managed during runtime, which improves flexibility and avoids system downtime. The proposed system architecture was evaluated taking into account different application scenarios and heterogeneous computing platforms.As a conclusion, modern database management systems support features that can be successfully employed in a database-centric system architecture to effectively and efficiently address functional and non-functional requirements of smart environments.