The next generation of ward call

Development of a system for the acoustic call for help and communication function for the nurse call for use in nursing homes

The requirements for a nurse call system, also called ward call, are currently changing. In addition to new legal requirements of the DIN standard for such systems (VDE0834), the increasing individual mobility of the users of the facility in particular is becoming possible. Essential innovations here are the networked indoor localization of the call systems and the contactless activation of help calls by voice command.

At present a patient can call the nursing staff by light call pushbutton, a concrete request cannot be communicated yet - then the nursing staff must put back double ways (nursing call - the patient would like to get something to drink- water from the kitchen - back to the patient). In particular more extensive nursing homes have therefore begun to use the room telephones for inquiries. The nurse call system is therefore to be extended by a possibility for voice signaling. At the same time, this will open up new possibilities for use, such as the integration of multimedia services such as radio or television.

The proportion of dementia patients in nursing homes increases with the increasing age of the residents. These persons are still physically mobile and a higher degree of exercise is aimed for the individual health. At the same time, the operators of care facilities must also ensure the safety of the often disoriented patients. To this end, passageways and doors are often secured. An alternative to restricting freedom of movement is the possibility of localization within the facility. An "open house" with invisible monitoring devices at the entrances and exits and variable, personal movement zones has been a wish of nursing home operators and care service providers for many years, which was requested by Ilper Elektronik at trade fairs and other public events. Hereby the care facility could guarantee a substantially higher security of the residents and relieve the nurses strongly. A localization of persons in need of help in case of an emergency call would also result in a faster finding of this person in the building.

In addition, open concepts in dementia care have shown that the well-being and health of people with dementia in home environments can be improved by enabling a higher degree of mobility. Indoor localization has already been investigated several times in the field of care and Ambient-Assisted Living within the framework of research projects (e.g. MOBECS and PareSense). However, practical implementation requires a high number of (retrofitted) sensor systems in the respective homes. Within the scope of this project, a product- and market-ready system for standard integration into room electronics is to be developed on the basis of the previous findings from research projects. In this way, costs for separate disorientation protection systems can be saved on the operator side, especially in the care of patients with dementia. At the same time, dementia patients can be given greater individual freedom.

Integrated help call recognition through automatic speech recognition

A further topic is the automatic activation of the emergency call system in case of a certain emergency situation. In the joint projects MOBECS and PareSense, the project partners Ilper Elektronik and Fraunhofer IDMT have already shown that an emergency call by voice command is technically possible. So far, however, the integration of algorithms for acoustic monitoring requires relatively powerful hardware, which cannot be used on a large scale due to cost and energy consumption criteria. Within the scope of this project, an acoustic recognizer based on new procedures using neural networks is to be developed, which can be used on a large scale on low-power standard hardware. In this way, the weaknesses of the prototypes identified in advance shall be eliminated and the robustness necessary for market launch shall be achieved.

Objective of the project

The aim is to develop the next generation of nurse call systems (ward call) for nursing homes with networked indoor localization and the simple activation of help calls by speech.


Responsibilities of Fraunhofer IDMT

  • Development of an integrated help call recognition for use in the nursing room
  • Secure audio transmission methods for speech recognition and communication


The project is supported by the Federal State of Lower Saxony and the European Union within the framework »Niedersächsischen Innovationsförderprogramms für Forschung und Entwicklung in Unternehmen«.

Speech Recognition for Products and Processes

Speech detection systems allow operation of technical systems without visual or physical contact. The speech recognition technology of the Fraunhofer IDMT in Oldenburg functions robustly - with and without an internet connection.