Generally, people spend a good amount of time in their home performing everyday activities like: sleeping, eating, cooking, relaxing, entertaining, and so on; thus, it comes as no surprise that the home plays a key role in our health, lifestyle, and well-being. The Aware Home Research Initiative (AHRI) at Georgia Institute of Technology is an interdisciplinary research endeavor aimed at addressing the fundamental technical, design, and social challenges for people in a home setting. Central to this research is the Aware Home, a 3-story, 5040 square foot facility designed to facilitate research, while providing an authentic home environment.
Aware Home Research Initiative researchers are interested in three main research areas: Health and Well-being, Digital Media and Entertainment, and Sustainability, investigating how new technologies can impact the lives of people at home.
Health and Well-being
Many otherwise busy adults are sandwiched between generations of older and younger relations that rely on them for care. Often baby boomers take responsibility for helping an aging parent retain an independent life in his or her own home, rather than moving to a care facility. Others are assisting a developmentally delayed child or grandchild grow into an independent and functional lifestyle. Still others may help a sibling cope with a chronic health condition.
Whatever the situation, there are many opportunities for home technologies to support the important communication and coordination tasks a network of formal and informal caregivers or help the resident to remain independent or self-manage chronic disease. As we continue to see new sensing and applications rapidly entering the market, we are considering ways in which these off-the-shelf and new innovative technologies being developed in the lab can be utilized to improve health outcomes and enable greater independence. These technologies have the potential to greatly reduce health care costs, by helping people better monitor, understand, and self-manage their chronic disease, or by allowing people to live independently in their own homes, rather than being forced into institutional care facilities.
Digital Media and Entertainment
Home entertainment is an important aspect of our leisure time. The increasing deployment of digital computation and communication technologies into the home provides new opportunities for home entertainment, includuing in the areas of social communication, gaming, and virtual presence. What new applications are made possible with higher bandwidth available to the home?How should future products take into account the greater potential for breach of privacy? How can we simplify the management of home entertainment infrastructure? And how can these digital media devices that are so prevalent in homes today, help in other interesting areas, such as home management, health, security, or resource management? These are some of the questions we are seeking to answer.
Managing our precious resources (water, power, gas) is not just about being green, but can also result in a cost savings for households. Most people would agree they find it difficult to remember to adjust the thermostat when leaving the home and challenging to conserve water, yet they desire to help make a difference. AHRI researchers are developing innovative solutions, such as improved or lower cost sensing infrastructure, controls, and feedback displays that will make it easier for people to manage their resource consumption at home.
Future Tools for the Home
When devising applications, whether for health, entertainment, sustainability or managing the home, it is often the underlying technology that makes the difference. Applications might rely on innovative use of off-the-shelf technologies or we might have to devise solutions where current technology on the market doesn't meet the need. In today's home, the lines are being blurred between application spaces, so it is often the case that new "tools" like sensing technology, can power applications across our other research areas.
The Aware Home and Other Resources
The Aware Home
As the first residential laboratory of its type, the Aware Home has received great media attention and provided a valuable venue demonstrating the multidisciplinary nature of Georgia Tech research. Since 2000, Aware Home Research Initiative researchers have leveraged the facility to investigate many areas of research including: data delivery to the home, innovative sensing and control infrastructure, and a variety of applications to support home residents. One of the strongest areas in this research is on health and wellness in the home with significant efforts focused on technology to support aging-in-place and the caregivers of children with developmental disabilities, such as autism. This research has influenced both the broader research community and industry in considering the importance of the home in our future.
Funded by a grant from the Georgia Research Alliance (GRA) awarded in 1998, The Aware Home is a three-story, 5040-square-foot home designed to be flexible, yet provide an authentic home environment. The Aware Home functions as a living laboratory for interdisciplinary design, development and evaluation.
The Aware Home was designed with two identical floors, each featuring: a kitchen, dining room, living room, 3 bedrooms, 2 full bathrooms, and a laundry room. But it was also designed with many features not found in a typical home in order to support the expected research to be conducted. These features include:
- a basement with a conference room and workshop
- an attic with walk-in access
- accessible features, like grab bars and wider hallways and doors, and lever door handles
- conduits from basement to attic, with breakouts for each main floor
- drop ceilings with outlets, cable trays, and conduits concealed in the space above
- conduits running from ceiling to floor, allowing concealment of custom runs of cables
- indirect and diffuse lighting to avoid specular reflection to optimize computer vision results
The home was originally intended to allow for a full-time resident(s) / research participants on one floor and prototyping of new technologies, sensing, and other research on the other floor. For a number of reasons (including legal), this intended use by long-term residents has not yet been realized; however, the facility is very useful for studies involving live-in participants for a short-term (e.g. 1-10 days).
Research / Living Lab Facility
The Aware Home serves the needs of the researchers and students in many ways, including:
- for research projects where elements of the home are not easily recreated in the lab, for example: research leveraging powerlines, waterlines, kitchen, or the floorplan.
- as a home environment for testing out installation of research projects in a home setting prior to deploying to research participant homes
- as a controlled home environment for studies, where technology is not yet ready for installation in participants homes and a home environment would make the difference. These may be studies of a couple hours to 10 days, depending on the goals of the research
- to educate students and provide an interesting environment for their class project ideas
- as a single location to share our multi-disciplinary research with others
- as an informal location for gathering with a group.
Wesley Woods Towers Suite
Thanks to the generous assistance from the Wesley Woods Center at Emory University, the Aware Home Research Initiative has access to a small suite in the Wesley Woods Senior Living Towers for conducting studies involving older adults. This facility serves as a beta location for evaluation of technology in a controlled environment within an independent / assistive living population. In this way we can bring the research to a group of older adults who may not otherwise make a trip to a study location.
AHRI researchers have often used participant’s homes in research to evaluate the pros and cons of our projects. Finding willing participants is always challenging and time-consuming. The AHRI is working with the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) to build HomeLab, a 550 home testbed of individuals age 50 and older willing to evaluate aging products in their homes over timeframes ranging from 1 month to 6 or more months.The goal is to provide a valuable resource for Georgia Tech researchers investigating longitduinal understanding of aging, interventions and supports for aging-in-place, and to offer services for the evaluation of industry products’ with focus on usability, usefulness, acceptance, adoption, and effectiveness.
Aware Home Address
The Aware Home Research Initiative
479 10th Street NW
Atlanta, GA 30318, USA [map]
House - 1st floor: 404-385-4092
Additional Contact Information
(From I-85, I-75) The Aware Home is located at the Northwest corner of Center Street and 10th street [map]. From I-75/I-85, take the 10th street exit. Head West on 10th. Continue past lights at Atlantic and at State streets. Center Street is hidden by a 2-story building that sits close to 10th street. Turn right on Center Street just past that building. Then park on the right (East side) of Center where the No Parking Signs say HP Permit required. Please ask inside for a visitor permit or you may get a ticket. It is a two-story gray building facing 10th street.
By public transportation
If you use MARTA trains or Bus, the nearest MARTA train station is “Midtown”. Catch the Georgia Tech Trolley from the midtown MARTA station. Exit the trolley at Hemphil and Ferst St. For more information about Tech Trolley, visit the GT parking website. Head up Hemphill to Tenth Street. Cross Tenth to the South side and head right, down the South side of Tenth to the corner of Center and Tenth Streets. You are standing in front of the Aware Home (aka. Broadband Institute Residential Laboratory).
If you are interested in touring the Aware Home, email to email@example.com with a preferred date, your interests, and how many people you would like to have attend. Please understand that we may reject tour requests if they are too difficult to accommodate or do not match up with our initiative goals.