The goal of active aging is to promote changes in the elderly community so as to maintain an active, independent and socially-engaged lifestyle. Technological advancements currently provide the necessary tools to foster and monitor such processes. This paper reports on mid-term achievements of the European H2020 EMPATHIC project, which aims to research, innovate, explore and validate new interaction paradigms and platforms for future generations of personalized virtual coaches to assist the elderly and their carers to reach the active aging goal, in the vicinity of their home. The project focuses on evidence-based, user-validated research and integration of intelligent technology, and context sensing methods through automatic voice, eye and facial analysis, integrated with visual and spoken dialogue system capabilities. In this paper, we describe the current status of the system, with a special emphasis on its components and their integration, the creation of a Wizard of Oz platform, and findings gained from user interaction studies conducted throughout the first 18 months of the project.