McGowan Institute faculty member Rory Cooper, PhD, is part of a University of Pittsburgh/Carnegie Mellon University team charged with transforming robotics and related technologies to tools that help those with reduced functional capabilities live independently, in their homes, for as long as possible. As its co-director, Dr. Cooper provides his rehabilitative science and technologies expertise to the Quality of Life Technology Engineering Research Center—QoLT, for short—partnership effort.
The QoLT team envisions at least three levels of services available to residents: A monitoring/communication system, a personal monitoring system, and driving assistance. “Smart cottages” and some of their futuristic concepts are already in clinical trials. Eventually, a “Quality of Life Technology Kit” will be available at the local big box home improvement stores.
In-home systems would help residents with reminders to turn off appliances, to refocus activities after distractions; to provide personal health monitoring (heart rate, blood pressure); to monitor social activity levels, medication schedules, meals. Driving assistance may include navigational assistance with predetermined routes to stores, laundries, fitness facilities.
QoLT projects that the cost for this technology will add about $10,000 to the cost of each cottage, but residents will recoup part of that through an energy management feature. In the end, this $10,000 is far less than the assisted living charges that residents may be able to avoid.
Illustration: McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
Pop City (10/03/07)