The development of AAL implies conceiving a viable idea and testing it works. You need to know which affordable hardware industry could produce for you. Also, this hardware has to prove it works in a real environment with its inhabitants, what we call a “living lab”. It is easy to imply that experimental hardware or a real living lab can always be afforded. A possible solution to this problem would be Virtual Living Labs as a cheap, yet effective, test bed for AAL. The idea is to create full AAL systems that run on a virtual world.
In the SociAAL project, we have created PHAT using free software that enables a researcher to devise interfaces for new hardware, connect this new hardware to the simulated environment, and check if it works. SociAAL uses Android emulators as containers for the software and connects these emulators with the virtual world using camera feeds, sound, and the usual sensors in these devices.
In the example, we are feeding sound and image to two android emulators which are allocated at the hands of the virtual characters. As long as the hardware, perhaps yet to be created, runs an Android, the app ought to work.