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Smart solar technology promotes healthy aging – multidisciplinary solution developed together with users

Published on 17.6.2021
Tampere University
Researchers at laboratory.Researchers at work in the Tampere University's Redlabs laboratory. Photo: extraction from video by Erik Sundström
A project led by Tampere University to develop smart solar technology for healthy aging has received a major grant from the Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation. A team of researchers is using a human-centred socio-technical approach to develop solar-powered smart sensors that monitor elderly people at home to detect and prevent falls.

The Human-centered solar smart technology design for healthy aging’ (SOL-TECH) initiative is coordinated by Associate Professor Paola Vivo from the Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences together with Professors Johanna Ruusuvuori and Marja Kaunonen from the Faculty of Social Sciences and Assistant Professor Sofie Pelsmakers from the Faculty of Built Environment at Tampere University.

SOL-TECH has received €750,000 of funding from the Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation.

SOL-TECH will tackle the main issues relating to the independent living of seniors, particularly the risk of falling which is the leading cause of injury and death among the elderly population. The multidisciplinary SOL-TECH consortium proposes a socio-technical approach for collaborating with older people to rethink the existing fall prevention technologies and transforming them into a user-friendly and sustainable product powered by cutting-edge photovoltaic technology.

“The technological objective of SOL-TECH is to co-design and develop solar-powered smart tags and sensors that can be integrated into home environments to prevent and monitor falling, hence supporting the independent living of the elderly and improving their quality of life, while being powered by clean energy harnessed from indoor light,” says Paola Vivo, leader of the SOL-TECH consortium and the Hybrid Solar Cells group at Tampere University .

Technical solution developed together with future users

The SOL-TECH technology will leverage perovskite solar cells (PSCs), as they are among the most promising hybrid solar cell technologies to date. The new collaborative project aims at addressing the stability and sustainability issues of flexible PSCs, thus bringing current PSC research at Tampere University to a higher maturity level while increasing its social impact by supporting healthy aging and sustainable living.

“We will work together with older people and their carers to explore their needs and living environments as well as the fall risks and the opportunities and barriers for the use of technology that exist in their homes through ethnographic observation and in-depth interviews and architectural mapping,” Vivo adds.

The proposed solutions will be developed and prototyped in cooperation with participants in co-design workshops and their homes. The usability, suitability, and acceptance of the prototypes as well as their in-situ performance will be studied in different home environments.

There will be an exhibition showcasing the developed products and findings to maximise the benefits for society.

The project proposal was developed with the help of seed funding that Tampere University received from the Academy of Finland under the PROFI 5 call titled Sustainable Welfare Systems in late 2019.

The three-year SOL-TECH project will run from the beginning of 2022 to the end of 2024.


Paola Vivo
+358 44 3407081 [at]