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R2 Voice-Activated Digital Assistants to Support Health and Independence

Principal Investigator

Kenneth Blocker, M.S. & R. S. Sreenivas, Ph.D.

Team

Emma Lachs, B.S., & Wendy Rogers, Ph.D.

Students

Husna Hussaini & Ki Lim

Partners

OSF Healthcare; Post-Polio Health International; National Multiple Sclerosis Society; Clark-Lindsey Village; Disability Resources and Education Services (DRES); CRIS Health Aging; University of Chicago; National Opinion Research Center (NORC)

Overview

Voice-activated digital assistants, such as the Amazon Alexa devices, have great potential to support people aging with mobility disabilities. Alexa can be integrated with a variety of smart home technologies, such as robotic vacuums and smart light bulbs, to help people with limited mobility complete activities at home as independently as possible.

In this project, we are conducting in-home evaluations of new digital voice assistant applications for smart home technologies being developed as part of the D4. Developing Voice-Activated Digital Home Assistants Project. We are specifically looking at applications to support people in controlling their home environment, engaging in physical activity, interacting with others, and managing their health. Through this research, we will explore to what extent the applications and the instructional user guide are practical, useful, and effective in improving the lives of users.

Two older Asian women using a smart speaker and electronic tablet while seated at a table at home.

 

Project Status

We have now begun our field trial which will provide our specially designed “Digital Assistance in a Box” technology suite to older adults with mobility disabilities to assess the benefits and barriers of integrating smart technology within their lives to assist with in-home daily activities. The Box contains a digital home assistant (Amazon Echo Show), smart light, and smart plug, as well as dedicated instructional materials designed with older adults in mind. These manuals were a product of the D4. Developing Voice-Activated Digital Home Assistants Project.

We now have developed 5 Amazon Echo User Guides: Basic UsesSetting Up, Social CommunicationEnvironmental Control, and Health Applications.

Check out our project poster presented at the 2022 TechSAge State of the Science:

Screenshot of poster "Assessing the Potential of Voice-Activated Digital Home Assistants for Older Adults with Mobility Disability"

Select Publications

Kadylak, T., Blocker, K. A., Kovac, C. E., & Rogers, W. A. (2022). Understanding the Potential of Digital Home Assistant Devices for Older Adults through their Initial Perceptions and Attitudes. Gerontechnology, 21(1), 1-10.

Blocker, K. A., Ramadhani, W. A., & Rogers, W. A. (2022). Developing an Instructional Suite for the Amazon Echo to Support Novice Older Adults’ Use. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting, 66(1),1046–1050. https://doi.org/10.1177/1071181322661422.

Blocker, K. A., Kadylak, T., Koon, L. M., Kovac, C. E., & Rogers, W. A. (2020). Digital home assistants and aging: Initial perspectives from novice older adult users. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting. SAGE Publications. Santa Monica, CA: Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1071181320641327 

Koon, L. M., Khaleghi, R. Blocker, K. A., Rogers, W.A., Sreenivas, R.S. (2020). On Integrating Voice-Activated Digital Assistants with Smart Home Technologies to Support People with Long-Term Mobility Disabilities: Needs Assessment, Product-Selection and Implementation. Proceedings of the International Conference on Industrial Engineering and Operations Management, Dubai, UAE. (pp/ 513-514). http://www.ieomsociety.org/ieom2020/papers/88.pdf  

Koon, L. M., McGlynn, S. A., Blocker, K. A., & Rogers, W. A. (2019). Perceptions of Digital Assistants From Early Adopters Aged 55+. Ergonomics in Design1064804619842501.

Project Alumni

Leonardo Galoso, Saahithya Gowrishankar, B.A, Travis Kadylak, Ph.D., Roshanak Khaleghi, Ph.D. Lyndsie Koon, Ph.D. & Cristopher Kovac, B.S., Maya Malecki, Vikram Ramavarapu, B.S., Satvika Veeravalli, & Kyre Williams, B.S.

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