Local Seniors Test Tech for Case Western Reserve University

Local Seniors Test Tech for Case Western Reserve University

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By Case Western Reserve University

A diverse group of collaborators posed a novel question over the last year: What if seniors could test technology designed to improve their lives in residential space that doubles as a laboratory where academic researchers could get real-world, real-time data on the technology’s performance?

That question will be answered in a unique way with the official opening in October of the Smart Living Lab at Ohio Living Breckenridge Village’s Grace Wood Campus, in collaboration with Case Western Reserve University.

The 2,400-square-foot Smart Living Lab was built by Ohio Living Breckenridge Village to provide its residents a dedicated location for trying out devices and programs developed by Case Western Reserve researchers.

The idea is to have the seniors work with the devices before the technology advances to the marketplace—and where university faculty and students can immediately relate with the residents to address their daily challenges.

Ohio Living Breckenridge Village residents have already tested a shoe insert that measures balance, a Rubik’s Cube-type device to measure cognitive function and a variety of other wearable devices.

Those projects and others—possibly including the testing of socially interactive robots—will now be housed in the new Smart Living Lab space.

The lab was the brainchild of David Schell, former executive director of Ohio Living Breckenridge Village, who has always sought collaborative opportunities and saw this partnership as the ultimate learning experience.

“What a great opportunity to create an environment where students could relate with elders on a very personal basis to address their real needs,” he said.

The benefits are expected to be intergenerational, organizers said. And the research benefits are expected to be interdisciplinary: While the primary research is being led and coordinated by Kiju Lee, the Nord Distinguished Assistant Professor in mechanical and aerospace engineering at the Case School of Engineering, it also will involve academic researchers from the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing and the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences.

“This is a great way to involve the human element in the research and technology development,” Lee says. “Not only that, but it makes a big difference to have that tech tested by the seniors who will be the end users—not a college-age student in a lab here. That’s taking a big step toward much better outcomes for the seniors and for the scientists.”

About the author

Marie Elium spent 10 years as a newspaper reporter in Virginia and Ohio before switching to freelance writing when her two children were young. The kids are now Millennials, but writing continues to be one of her favorite endeavors. Marie was named editor of Northeast Ohio Boomer and Beyond magazine in November 2015 and is a graduate of Miami University. Marie can be reached at [email protected]

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