Two people talk next to a table with signage about design and technology for healthy aging.

Technology & Aging

Technology & Aging

Technology & Aging identifies barriers to activity and participation for people with and without functional limitations due to disability or age, and develops enabling designs and technologies to overcome these barriers. It focuses on physical spaces in home and community settings, as well as digital environments and applications such as computer software and mobile apps.

Current Projects

woman showing an elderly woman an app on a cell phone.

Access for Aging Well

Addressing Challenges and Concerns w/Everyday Strategies and Solutions

Principal Investigators: Carolyn Phillips (CIDI), Maureen Linden (CIDI) & Mark Harniss, PhD (Center for Technology and Disability Studies | University of Washington)

The Georgia Institute of Technology’s (Georgia Tech) Center for Inclusive Design and Innovation (CIDI), in collaboration with the University of Washington’s Center for Technology & Disability Studies (CTDS), is developing ACCESS for Aging Well, a dynamic assistive technology (AT) and accommodation system with web-based and mobile functionality that will help older adults with disabilities and their formal and informal caregivers and service providers work together to identify accommodations that allow  older adults with disabilities to continue to live in their community of choice.  ACCESS for Aging Well uses intelligent algorithms to prioritize recommendations within a person-centered service framework.  These algorithms are based on existing data from project partners, collected data from use of the system, and review of state-of-the-science evidence in the scientific literature and practitioner input.  This project will build upon several current proof of concept development projects at CIDI and continue through the Proof of Product and Proof of Adoption stages of development. This project addresses NIDILRR’s domain on Community Living and Participation, as well as its cross-cutting priority Technology for Access and Function, through development activities that contribute to improved community living and participation outcomes for older adults with disabilities.

An older woman in a wheelchair using a laptop computer.

Feasibility of using Tele-Technology

for Mind-Body Interventions for People with Mild Cognitive Impairment

Principal Investigators: Tracy L. Mitzner (Georgia Institute of Technology), Dr. Patricia C. Griffiths (Emory University)

Group mind-body classes, such as Tai chi and mindfulness, have the potential to provide both physical and social health benefits. Unfortunately, there are substantial logistical, cultural, and structural barriers for adults aging with cognitive disabilities, such as Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), to engage in group exercise classes. Barriers include lack of transportation to classes, fear of negative stereotypes, and a dearth of instructors with appropriate training. Teletechnology, such as video-conferencing with audio and video exchange, provides the opportunity for people to deliver and attend group exercise classes remotely, with great potential to support people with MCI. This research builds on our earlier research on the acceptance and usability of such “Telewellness” technologies by older adults with mobility disabilities. We are proposing several small studies to develop and evaluate a protocol for remote instructors to deliver live, mind-body classes to small groups of people with MCI who participate in 2 settings: 1) onsite at MCIEP with co-located group and 2) at home using a tablet with remotely located group. We hope to develop a program that is easy to use, enjoyable, and beneficial to individuals with MCI.

An older woman uses a tool at a stove.

Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Technologies

to Support Aging-in-Place for people Long-Term with Disabilities (RERC TechSAge)

Principal Investigators: Jon Sanford, Tracy Mitzner, and Wendy Rogers

TechSAge is an interdisciplinary research center dedicated to understanding the needs of, and developing supportive technologies for, people with disabilities as they age. In collaboration with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the center includes research, development, and training projects. The TechSAge projects at CIDI include:

  • Needs Assessment & Technology Use

    To gain a better understanding of what technology supports are needed and how to effectively design them, researchers are continuing efforts to understand activity challenges in-depth among older adults with long-term vision, hearing, and mobility disabilities.

  • TeleWellness Technologies

    This project is using video-based conferencing to translate an in-person, evidence-based Tai Chi class to an online, social experience. The Tele Tai Chi intervention study will explore whether or not the Tele Tai Chi program can increase social interaction and positive health behaviors (e.g., physical exercise frequency) among older adults with long-term mobility disabilities.

  • SmartBathroom Technologies

    At the SmartBathroom laboratory, located at Georgia Tech’s Aware Home, researchers are currently developing and evaluating smart, adjustable concepts that can meet an individual’s unique support needs.

  • Training

    From webinars to workshops to hackathons, TechSAge training activities are designed to increase awareness about universal design, RERC’s work, and technology support needs for people aging with disability.

Scrabble tiles are shown scattered on a game board.

Development and Testing of a Social Game

for Individuals with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and Their Care Partners

Principal Investigator: Chantal Kerssens; Co-Investigators: Kara Cohen (CIDI), Maribeth Gandy Coleman (IMTC), Laura Levy (IMCT)

MCI affects millions of older Americans, and progression to dementia is common. Although people with MCI experience impairments, they are often highly verbal, able, and eager to uphold beloved routines. Many seek opportunities to stay physically and mentally active to support brain health. Some forms of cognitive training and social engagement may delay the onset and progression of disease, including dementia.

This project creates, implements, and tests an adapted, accessible version of a well-known board game, Scrabble, for people with MCI and their family mem­bers. It will be co-designed with older adults with and without MCI using adaptive game mechanics and well-established cognitive supports for the player with MCI so that ability rather than disability is reinforced. This should result in a game that is equally enjoyable and challenging to players with and without MCI. The overall goal is to foster a meaningful, joyous, and potentially therapeutic social activ­ity.

This project is part of the Cognitive Empowerment Program.

An older man seated in a chair speaks with an older woman in a wheelchair.

Cognitive Empowerment Program

The vision of the Cognitive Empowerment Program (CEP) is to revolutionize the experience of people affected by MCI by creating a comprehensive approach that can be replicated nationally and internationally.

With the aim of speeding up development, testing, and dissemination of evidence-based interventions for MCI, the Innovation Accelerator (IA) core is offering seed grants to support research in the following areas: therapeutic programming, technology, and the built environment. 

The funded projects should result in innovative solutions, strategies, or methodologies developed through a culture of collaboration among students, researchers, clinicians, and people with MCI in less than 12 months’ time. Beginning in fall 2019, $150,000 in seed grants will be available annually for three years. Proposals can range from semester- to year-long research projects, and smaller proposals can target funds to convene valuable discussions, gather data, develop methods and metrics, or prototype new designs and technologies.