The Quality of Life Technology (QoLT) Center's research deals with almost all aspects of human living. QoLT systems will affect people in different settings with different functionalities. The setting may be at home, providing personal support and help for daily living; it could be a neighborhood, where the systems help a person to engage in community activities; or it could be more societal where a person commutes to work and contributes to society through employment. In each setting QoLT systems provide different forms of functionality: enhancing dexterity and mobility, helping with some home chores, supporting memory, coaching through job functions, helping to drive cars, and so on.
Our approach to user involvement is characterized by:
- incorporation of universal design principals
- active involvement of all relevant stakeholders and a clear understanding of the circumstances of the target user and task requirements
- multi-disciplinary research, design, and development processes involving users, engineers, designers, marketing, clinicians, service delivery, social and health professionals
- an interactive development process
This approach allows us to produce prototypes and evaluate design solutions according to user criteria. We define this process as Participatory Action Design, which incorporates universal design, but includes much more stakeholder involvement than may be characteristic of current universal design.
Our strategy encompasses a few QoLT systems that embody the vision as the focus, align our engineering research and development efforts with them, develop a series of integrated prototypes in each family with progressively greater capability over the life span of the ERC, evaluate prototypes in the testbeds, and feed back findings into the main research areas. This overall strategy is depicted on the right.
Three-Plane Strategic Plan Chart
[click on image to enlarge]
The middle level generates a technology base of modular components providing necessary functions or capabilities to the multiple QoLT systems, tools to be used in designing and implementing such components, and knowledge and data bases to inform our work and that of our colleagues elsewhere. The technologies of the middle plane map to the modules of the QoLT System Architecture.
The bottom level basic research increases fundamental knowledge to support the development of the technology base. We have categorized these as being primarily focused on individual human function (the micro-level), behavior and interaction with the living environment (the meso-level), and the social and economic factors (the macro-level) that enables or constrains the outcomes of our work.