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A (High-Tech) Room of One’s Own

November 4 2008 | by

Someday soon, older adults may not need to move into nursing homes because they’ll have a household of technological wonders to keep an eye on them when they become frail. That’s what this Dallas Morning News article says, after taking a look at what the University of Texas is doing to keep seniors more independent for longer. UT’s Human-Centered Computing Laboratory houses a make-believe one-bedroom apartment equipped with high-tech cameras, motion sensors and robots, and surrounded by computer stations. Robots scoot from room to room to wake the homeowners in the morning, remind them to eat and send for help if someone falls. Sensors embedded throughout home detect when the resident has a sleepless nights or forgets to take his medication. Web-based computer software will notify family members and caregivers. The UT lab will be “the springboard for what experts predict will be an exploding assistive technology industry within a decade,” according to the article. No doubt, UT lab’s technology can be modified to help people with disabilities, too — especially those who are unable to care for themselves but wish to live on their own. These are the kinds of stories I love to read, because they position assistive technology as cool, helpful and synonymous with independence.

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