Current Projects

Aging with Mobility Impairment: Understanding Challenges in the Home
Research on aging-in-place has largely focused on how age-related limitations impact a person’s ability to live independently at home. Little attention has been paid to how aging influences the daily home activities of individuals with disability. Through an in-home interview, this study explored the home experience of aging with mobility impairment. Participants included older adults who have a mobility impairment that began prior to age 50. Specific emphasis was placed on how participants have adapted to challenges in the home (e.g., home modifications, assistive devices) and how age-related changes impact daily living activities. This research was conducted as a part of RERC TechSAge at Georgia Tech. Funded by the Department of Education (National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, H133E130037)

Data to Healthy Decisions (D2HD)
D2HD Data FlowNocturia, or frequent nighttime urination, can be an important indicator for other health conditions. The purpose of this study is to collect a real-world data set to support the development of analytics that yield useful information to assist practitioners in monitoring the health of individuals in their homes. A kit of minimally-intrusive sensor technologies will be deployed into participants’ homes to measure general activity levels, bathroom visits, bed presence and sleep patterns, and vital signs (heart and respiratory rate) while in bed.

Past Projects

Activity Monitor
Handheld Activity MonitorTo better understand how to support health technology acceptance and adoption, more information is needed about older adults’ attitudes and usage of such technologies. Eight participants used one of four activity monitoring technologies (Striiv, Fitbit One, Nike+ FuelBand, and daily for two weeks. Participants’ initial attitudes were positive, but after using the technology for two weeks, five participants indicated they would not continue using the technology. The results suggest that efforts should focus on conveying the usefulness and personal benefits of activity monitoring technologies specific to older adults.

Behavioral Acceptance of Activity Monitors
HomeLab researchers collaborated with researchers in the Human Factors and Aging Laboratory (Georgia Tech, School of Psychology) to investigate older adults’ usage of and attitudes about two different activity tracking technologies, the Fitbit One and A total of 17 HomeLab participants took part in this study. Participants used one of the two technologies for four weeks and logged their experiences in a diary. Interviews and questionnaires were conducted before and after the study to assess attitudes and experiences.

Developing a Scoring Matrix to Evaluate Consumer Packaging Ease of Use
The goal of this project is to develop a scoring matrix for evaluating and quantifying the ease of use of consumer product packaging for older adults. Products will be evaluated as a function of frequency of use and the difficulty of various functional tasks required for use. The scoring matrix will enable the assessment of product packaging and determine the potential opportunity for improvement through redesign. The resulting scores can be used to prioritize redesign efforts.

Hydration Pilot Study
The goal of this pilot study was to 1) evaluate which methods of assessing hydration in older adults are best suited for the home environment and 2) provide consumer feedback on a sensor straw prototype that monitors fluid consumption in real-time. For five days, participants were asked to complete several daily tasks, such as keeping a food and beverage journal, wearing an activity tracker, providing a morning urine sample, and drinking all beverages using a sensor straw. Additionally, researchers conducted daily, in-home appointments to run various health and urinalysis tests. Each assessment was analyzed in terms of cost, time commitment, accuracy, ease of use, and comfort. Findings will be used to suggest the most appropriate methods for assessing hydration of older adults in the home. Additionally, participant feedback will be used to further the design of the hydration sensor straw.

In-Home Medication Dispenser
The goal of this research study was to investigate older adults’ use of and attitudes about an in-home medication dispenser for adhering to a fictional medication regimen. The research study was conducted in participants’ homes; eight HomeLab participants were enrolled. They interacted with the system daily for 2 weeks, completed questionnaires, and made daily diary entries. Overall, participants liked the system’s dependability in reminding them to take their fictional medications. Seven of the eight participants positively endorsed the system and indicated they would recommend it to a friend.

Packaging Survey
An online survey was conducted to understand the difficulties older adults have interacting with various types of consumer packaging and the methods they used to overcome or circumvent such issues. The interactions of interest included picking up and holding containers, removing caps and lids, opening bags and packets, and dispensing the contents of containers. Difficulties in reading labeling and packaging instructions were also investigated. The data from this survey will inform design efforts to improve packaging ease of use for older adults.

Prescription Refill Survey
The goal of this exploratory study is to assess older adults’ prescription medication refill behaviors. The intent is to capture the experience of refilling prescription medication in terms of how older adults remember to order refills, how they order and receive refills, and how they rate their experience. Emphasis will be placed on older adults’ awareness and use of various technologies and services to refill their prescription medications.

Remote Health Monitoring
Remote Health Monitoring SystemHomeLab researchers collaborated with the newly-formed GTRI Health Strategic Initiative in the spring of 2013 to pilot test a new remote health monitoring system. The technology was deployed into the homes of five participants for 30 days. They interacted with the system each day to collect weight, oxygen saturation, and blood pressure data. The purpose of this research study was to collect data associated with congestive heart failure (CHF) over time to build an algorithm that can predict future health trends for individuals with CHF.

Smart Mirror
Smart Mirror camera in use by participantThis study investigated whether an off-the-shelf digital camera could be used to detect changes in facial features. Eight participants took photos of themselves in the morning and evening for 28 days. The results indicated that the selected digital cameras were effective in capturing sufficient data; however, inconsistent lighting affected the results of the algorithm in accurately detecting the location of facial features. Future efforts will focus on refining the algorithm to account for skin tone differences, facial orientation, and inconsistent lighting. The long-term goal is to use this information to detect potential health issues based on changes in facial appearance.

Social Media Survey
A survey was conducted to understand social media use among older adults. The majority of the questions focused on the use of Facebook, a popular social media application. The preliminary results suggest that many older adults do use Facebook and that they primarily use it to stay connected with family. As adults enter into older adulthood, maintaining social connectedness may become more difficult due to mobility limitations, chronic diseases, and other age-related issues, thus decreasing physical connectedness with friends, family, and community. For these reasons, social media may begin to play a more active role in keeping this population socially connected. Therefore, understanding the factors that influence social media use in older adults is becoming more critical.

Technology Diary
This study investigated older adults’ perceptions of technology in their everyday lives. Participants answered daily workbook questions about their experiences with technology and also kept a daily diary for 28-days. Overall, older adults were positive about technology, but they did express some concerns, such as identity theft and loss of human contact. Participants cited efficiency, making life easier, and communication as reasons why they use technology and what they liked about it. Older adults do adopt and use technologies, but the value and personal relevance must be made clear to them.

Transportation & Health Care Survey
This survey was conducted to identify general barriers to community mobility for senior adults in the Metropolitan Atlanta area, and to help identify common barriers and disparities in community mobility related to access to health care services. This study also identified general behavior patterns and trends among older adults in the Atlanta area with regard to types of transportation used and frequency of use.

Voting Accessibility Survey
As the rapidly growing population of older adults in the United States begins to experience the physical and cognitive limitations that come with age, it is important to understand how this population chooses to exercise their right to vote and to participate in civic activities. This survey investigated older adults’ experiences with the voting process during the 2012 U.S. presidential election. The majority of participants (44%) voted at the polling place on Election Day, with 25% citing their motivation as “the desire to participate in a community activity.” The results suggest that polling locations and voting systems should be designed to accommodate the older adult population.

Wearable Adherence Medication System
HomeLab researchers collaborated with the GT Bionics Laboratory (Georgia Tech, School of Electrical and Computer Engineering) to investigate older adults’ opinions about wearable health technologies. Twelve HomeLab participants (65+) completed in-home evaluations of six wearable health devices. Three of these devices were non-functioning prototypes of the Wireless Event detection and Adherence Monitoring System (WEAMS), which is a neckwear device that would have the capability to assist with managing medications, detecting falls, and tracking activities. Three commercially available devices (Jawbone UP, BodyMedia FIT and MIO Alpha), intended to be worn around the arm or wrist, were also evaluated. Participants preferred devices that were simplistic in design, discrete, lightweight, easy to take on/off, and comfortable to wear while performing tasks. The data collected from this research study will inform the design of future wearable technologies that can help older adults maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Weight Monitoring
Digital Scale In UseThe purpose of this pilot research study was to establish a methodology for measuring weight change over time with HomeLab participants. Technologies were deployed into the homes of eight participants for four weeks to measure daily weight, temperature, and physical activity. The data collected will be used to build a mathematical model that can predict future weight trends for individuals.