Impact-Quality of Life Technology Center - Carnegie Mellon University

Making an Impact

The technologies that the QoLT ERC develops will enable older adults and people with disabilities to more independently perform activities of daily living and give them opportunity to participate in society longer and more fully. QoLT will augment the capabilities and extend the reach of professional and informal caregivers, increasing their cost effectiveness and improving their own quality of life. Having more people gainfully employed and reducing the need for or delaying the onset of institutionalization will have an even more profound impact on the national economy. QoLT will transform and eventually subsume the present assistive technology industry, one that is fragmented and composed primarily of very small companies serving a small market, into a space with a large consumer base including the soon-to-retire Baby Boomers.

QoLT is an effective platform for industry/practitioner/academic researcher interaction and for engaging the general public in technology research. QoLT career and life goals are particularly strong attractors for women and persons with disabilities. Since health professions tend to be more diversity-balanced than the engineering professions, a by-product of the Center’s initiatives will be an increase in the pool of health professionals with engineering training and experiences that will help them understand how best to integrate technology into their practices. Simultaneously, the QoLT ERC will expand the pool of engineering students with substantial clinical and socio-economic training and experiences. QoLT will teach all of those students how to collaborate effectively – one of the most recognized and yet difficult-to-overcome challenges in the development and implementation of systems for people’s use. In terms of clinical impact, QoLT will accelerate the trend of engineers and clinicians collaborating for better treatment and will add computer and robotics specialists to patient care teams.

Making a Long-Term Difference

Through a holistic, human-centered design approach, the QoLT Center works with real people in the real world to ensure our technologies are sustainable, acceptable, and support a person's place in their community as well as society at large. Our long-term goals are to:

  • Increase employability and productivity across the life span
  • Expand the range of environments in which people will be independently and safely mobile, increasing community participation
  • Expand the number of people and number of years that they can live independently at home
Because we operate in the real world, there are several exciting challenges we are facing that require a systemic approach and solution beyond our engineering practices. These include changes to:
  • Public policy and system capacity
  • Societal attitudes and end-user behavior
  • Privacy policy and technologies
  • Clinical practice and behavior

chart: Total number of persons age 65 or older, by age group, 1900 to 2050, in millions