Technical assistance systems in care arrangements (TAPAS)

  • Project team:

    Böhle, Knud (project leader); Linda Nierling, Kolja Bopp

  • Funding:


  • Start date:


  • End date:


  • Project partners:

    Institut für Soziologie, Medien- und Kulturwissenschaften (Prof. Dr. Michaela Pfadenhauer); IFA - Institut für Anthropomatik (Prof. Dr.-Ing. Tanja Schultz, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Rainer Stiefelhagen); IPR - Institut für Prozessrechentechnik, Automation und Robotik (Dr. Björn Hein)

  • Research group:

    Innovation processes and impacts of technology

Project description


Future needs and requirements of care in the predicted "aging society" are often viewed as a key challenge for society. In recent years, when it comes to the future organization of elderly care, the development and use of new technologies is regarded as utmost important. Given the prevalence of a "technology push" orientation, there is a risk that the development of advanced technology determines the design of care arrangements and that the existing technology-driven innovation paths are hard to modify.

On the contrary there are ideas and approaches that start from the needs and focus on the social shaping of care arrangements by social innovations such as the involvement of friends in care, home support networks or multi-generational projects. The concept of "care arrangements" appears to be suited to integrate the technological and the social innovation perspective and to lead to a more comprehensive approach.

The project aims to investigate in an interdisciplinary way questions about the demand and requirements for social and technical innovations in the field of elderly care. It will strengthen the networking and cooperation activities within the competence area "Technology, Culture and Society", within the KIT research focus "Humans and Technology" as well as networking and cooperation with the engineering sciences in KIT, especially with the KIT research focus on "Anthropomatics and Robotics".

In the framework of this start-up project, each partner is presenting the state of the art from a disciplinary research perspective. Next, open research issues will be specified, pivotal questions will be identified and a common conceptual framework will be developed. The project team jointly plans, prepares, and implements an interdisciplinary workshop, the results of which are afterwards analyzed in view of further cooperation in interdisciplinary projects on care arrangements – in particular elderly care arrangements.

September 27. and 28. 2012 an interdisciplinary workshop took place in the framework of the TAPAS-project on "Technical assistance systems in care arrangements" (program).

Project results

It has become particularly evident in the project that advanced technologies as they are developed in robotics can support professionals and improve care if

  • the needs and welfare of the people who need care is taken into account right from the start of the development and design process,
  • the demand for technical support is determined starting from the specific characteristics of nursing core activities asking how technology can help so that there is more time for these core activities,
  • the diversity and complexity of home care as well as at nursing homes is acknowledged, and
  • if the care situation is not considered in isolation but conceived as a complex constellation in terms of time, space and social relations, i.e. a social arrangement in which many different actors are involved at different times in different places.

Moreover, it has become clear that a high degree of readiness for exchange and cooperation exists both on the side of nursing as well as the technical sciences. The different approaches need, however, to be translated from one domain to the each other in order to reach a common understanding. Social sciences and Technology Assessment have the potential to uncover the respective logics of action, views and context-specific problem conditions and to make them mutually transparent for the actors involved.

The perspective of social science and the technology assessment is also able to question apparent certainties (e.g. demographic trends, ideas of the ageing society), to show the cultural dependency and the change of individual and social expectations. Both can further stimulate ethical reflections on the complex relationship between technology and care.


Journal Articles
Böhle, K.; Bopp, K.
What a vision: The artificial companion. A piece of vision assessment including an expert survey
2014. Science, Technology and Innovation Studies, 10 (1), 155–186 
Böhle, K.; Bopp, K.; Dietrich, M.
Der "Artificial Companion" - ein hilfreiches Leitbild für Entwicklung und Einsatz technischer Assistenzsysteme in Pflegearrangements?
2013. 6. Deutscher AAL-Kongress "Lebensqualität im Wandel von Demografie und Technik", Berlin, 22.-23. Januar 2013 


Dipl.-Soz. Knud Böhle, M.A.
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
P.O. Box 3640
76021 Karlsruhe