Milestone Publications Highlight the Quality of Life Technology Center's Interdisciplinary Process-Quality of Life Technology Center - Carnegie Mellon University

Milestone Publications Highlight the Quality of Life Technology Center's Interdisciplinary Process

Outcome / Accomplishment:

October 2012 marked the release of the first available textbook on Quality of Life Technology (QoLT). Published under the guidance of QoLT's Person and Society Research Thrust Leader, Rich Shulz, The Quality of Life Technology Handbook is the third in a series of milestone publications describing the interdisciplinary process of technology development at the Quality of Life Technology Center. In September 2012, Director Dan Siewiorek's article on virtual coaches, "Generation Smartphone," appeared as the cover story of IEEE Spectrum; while Proceedings of the IEEE released a Special Issue on Quality of Life Technology edited by Director Emeritus, Takeo Kanade, in August.

Impact / Benefit:

Book reviewers state that The QoLT Handbook "defines and establishes a framework for a new interdisciplinary science." The QoLT Handbook appears as part of the publisher's Rehabilitation Science in Practice Series. Chapters from the book are already being integrated into course exams across the University of Pittsburgh's School of Health and Rehabilitation Science, such as the "Introduction to Rehabilitation Engineering & Client-Centered Design" class.

Explanation / Background:

Now available from CRC Press / Taylor & Francis Group, The Quality of Life Technology Handbook (ISBN-10: 1466505346) is a comprehensive resource on the process of developing, testing, and commercializing advanced technologies that improve the quality of life and functioning of older persons; persons with disability; and ultimately, everyone!

The book describes the QoLT Center's key learnings from its interdisciplinary team approach to the process of technology development and discusses the state of the art and future directions of technologies that improve people's everyday lives. The work also provides direction on how to identify user needs and preferences, engage end-users in teh design and development process, and evaluate and commercialize the technologies.

Key topics covered included:

  • A roadmap for the design, development and evaluation of QoLT system development;
  • Cutting edge reserach on robotics planning, manipulation and sensing;
  • Intelligent devices and instrumented environments that sense, observe and assist people;
  • Research, development and evaluation or rehabilitation and therapeutic systems; and
  • Why and how universal design is needed to ensure anyone can benefit from QoLT systems regardless of functional challenges.

The QoLT Handbook was released on the heels of a second publciation for technical audiences; a Special Issue on Quality of Life Technologies was published by Proceedings of the IEEE (Vol. 100, No. 8) and guest edited by QoLT Center Director Emeritus, Takeo Kanade. The IEEE Proceedings Special Issue featured discussions of:

  • sensors and interpretation;
  • mechanisms and manipulation;
  • human interaction and modeling;
  • rehabilitation and health science
  • communication and distributed systems; and,
  • personal and socio-economic considerations, such as user acceptance and privacy issues.

QoLT Director Dan Siewiorek introduced the general public to the coming wave of virtual coaching applications in September 2012. His popular science article, "Generation Smartphone," describes how pervasive computing applications equipped with an adaptive awareness of a person's activities and abilities will soon serve as our always-available guides, guardians or assistants. This IEEE Spectrum cover story seeds the notion that basic QoLT technology enabled intelligent systems as constant human companions across every stage of life helping everyone through daily tasks and fundamental human experiences.

QoLT is known to draw on collaborative, interdisciplinary teams involving social scientists, clinicians, engineers and computer scientists. The recent publciations highlight QoLT's aggregate expertise with contributions including several papers authored by researchers at the QoLT Center. Individual contributors to the Special Issue include: QoLT Center Director, Dan Siewiorek; Co-Director, Rory A. Cooper; QoLT Leadership Team Members Rich Shulz, Martial Hebert, and Siddhartha Srinivasa; as well as faculty and students of the QoLT Center. Book contributors encompassed a wider range of experts, such as QoLT Center advisors working in the field. Among the Handbook authors are: Marjorie Skubic, University of Missouri, Center for Eldercare and Rehabilitation Technology; Roger O. Smith, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Department of Occupational Science and Technology; and Sara Czaja, University of Miami, Miller School or Medicine.

The book was edited by Rich Shulz, Professor of Psychiatry, Director of the University Center for Social and Urban Research, Director of Gerontology, and Associate Director of the Institute on Aging at the University of Pittsburgh. Several specific examples of QoLT Testbed Systems are also cited throughout the publications, including the Home Exploring Robot Butler (HERB), First Person Vision, Virtual Coaches, and the Personal Mobility and Manipulation Appliance (PerMMA).

NSF Achievement Category:

Research and Technology Advancements

By: Kristen Sabol, ksabol @