Cleveland IoT Center for Smart and Connected Healthcare of the Aging Population

Building Innovative Capacity for User-Driven Elder Care Technologies through a Smart Living Lab

The concept of “aging in place” has become increasingly important, as about 40 million Americans (13% of the population) are aged 65 and older.

To facilitate human-centered technology development, a group of researchers at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) and Executive Director and staff at Ohio Living Breckenridge Village (OLBV) have been collaborating on establishing a living lab, which is an on-site study mechanism to involve potential end-users (i.e., older adults, family caregivers, and healthcare providers) in technology development and evaluation.

OLBV is one of the largest non-profit continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) in Ohio. Through this living lab, older users will actively participate in research and development projects through needs assessment and technology evaluation. Beyond facilitating individual projects, this lab will serve as a smart ecosystem, capable of supporting three groups of potential end-users: older adults, care providers, and R&D personnel. The living lab is being established in OLBV located in Willoughby, Ohio. It occupies over 2,000 square feet in one of the newest building on the OLBV campus.

Meet Woody, a Smart Living Lab creation

A screenshot of an ideastream® video about the Smart LIving Lab's robot companion project by Case Western Reserve University nurse researchers. The headline of the story, visible at the top of the picture, reads: "Baby Boomers: Would You Trust Your Care to a Robot?" In the photo, a plywood-based robot named Woody is shown.

CWRU researchers at the Smart Living Lab on the OLBV campus have developed a plywood-based social robot named Woody. The goal is to make Woody "a companion for older adults, someone who could also potentially help out with medication reminders or other things like that," in a November 2018 story from ideastream® reporters Anne Glausser and Laura Fillbach. Read the ideastream® story and meet Woody in the accompanying video.

Interdisciplinary CWRU research team

  • Kiju Lee, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering
  • Colin Drummond, professor and assistant chair, biomedical engineering
  • Ming-Chun Huang, assistant professor, electrical engineering and computer science
  • Grover Gilmore, dean of Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, professor of psychology and social work
  • Mary Dolansky, associate professor, nursing
  • Shanina Knighton, postdoctoral researcher, nursing
  • Matthew Plow, assistant professor, nursing