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Four University Research Programs about Technology for Older Adults

From the universities and their affiliates – research about older adults.  Since this website was launched in 2008, periodic looks at who is doing what in the area of research on aging have repeatedly revealed little in the way of commercialization determination or practicality of offerings.  But funding is found – and several of these programs seem driven to reward innovation that can be commercialized – or they are funded by organizations that want and need results.  Here are four from a recent scan -- there are more, of course, and if you know one that is more robust, please send it along or provide a comment:

  • MIT AgeLab Research. In general, unlike AARP, MIT AgeLab is a research entity with partnerships from corporate sponsors, versus incubating near-term or current in-market or startup offerings. Futurist Joseph Coughlin was recently elected to the all-volunteer AARP Board. While MIT AgeLab has poured a great deal of energy into cars (and self-driving cars in Boston, no less!), they are not the original source of research about that space. In addition, the AgeLab undertook a research project with the Age Suit (AGNES) which, considering its use in "retail, public transportation, home, community, automobile, workplace."
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One University spin-out in the aging space you may not be aware of is Kinesis Health Technologies. Kinesis Health Technologies are a start-up company based in University College Dublin (Ireland), and a spinout company of the TRIL centre (Technology Research for Independent Living Centre). TRIL was a large (€22m) 6 year ageing research programme funded by Intel, GE Healthcare and the Irish government. TRIL partners included three leading Irish Universities, University College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin, National University of Ireland Galway, Intel and GE Healthcare. TRIL was focused on three core issues around aging: falls, cognitive decline and social isolation. 

Kinesis licensed the IP around prediction of falls from Intel and Care Innovations and have produced QTUG, a wearable sensor based technology for predicting falls in seniors. In the US and Canada, we have a number of distributors including Care Innovations and GE Canada. From Barry Green, CTO, Kinesis Health Technologies.

 I knew about MIT'S AgeLab but not about the rest. EIT Health is very involved in Europe and several universities there. I participated in a program at the University of Copenhagen this summer. Malaysia also has a university involved in gerontechnology. We're on the cusp of something great.

A constant between the well-funded reputable university programs is the understanding of the importance of incorporating technology into the needs of geriatric programs, so aging relatives can live safely in the comforts of home. 

The days of a caregiver robot answering a real life Aunt Martha’s doorbell might’ve seem too far-fetched several years ago, but Georgia Tech’s innovative research suggests a different idea because of the futuristic vision of robots having an integrative role in the care of institutionalized and homebound care receivers. 

For our group members asking me to share credible reference resources with them, Laurie’s “Aging in Place Technology Watch” blog is an ideal destination when keeping current about trends in geriatrics and healthcare. Happy holidays! 


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