Research

Aware Home Research Initiative researchers are interested in three main research areas: Health and Well-being, Digital Media and Entertainment, and Sustainability. Researchers are inventing Future Tools for or applying new off-the-shelf technologies in innovative ways to improve the lives of people at home. Given people are also managing health, consuming media, and conserving resources on the go, we are extending the research from the home to consider mobile, as well, resulting in the Connected Life.

Health and Well-being

GATSBII robot delivering medication to older adult

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 resident, patient, family, or carenetwork. AHRI researchers are considering how technologies can:

  • assist an older adult resident in accomplishing activities of daily living to remain safe and independent at home
  • promote wellness in and out of the home
  • improve individual's self-management of a chronic disease
  • improve communication and coordination tasks required by a network of formal and informal caregivers

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

MagicWindow - a telepresence portal into the Aware Home

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, including 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.

Sustainability

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.

Innovative Infrastructure

hydrosense - waterline pressure monitoring

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 new 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.