10th Annual International Conference on Industrial Engineering and Operations Management

Integrating Voice-Activated Digital Assistants with Smart Home Technologies to Support People with Long-Term Mobility Disabilities: Needs-Assessment, Product-Selection and Implementation

0 Paper Citations
Track: Healthcare Operations and Services

Individuals with long-term mobility disabilities and age-related limitations can face many challenges in home environmental control, home healthcare tasks (e.g., reminders to take medications), maintaining a requisite amount of physical activity, and social interaction.  In a previous pilot-study, the authors have shown that Voice Activated Digital Assistants can help address the challenges faced by the above-mentioned demographic[1].  

In this paper we present a three-step methodology for the integration of Amazon Alexa devices with a variety of smart home technologies that will help the aforementioned demographic to live independently at home.  The first step is a needs assessment exercise involving a small pilot with members of the targeted demographic, namely older adults with long-term mobility disabilities.  We developed an instrument that gauges the technology-solutions they require.  Additionally, we assessed ability to cope with newer technologies, which is subsequently used to develop the format and content of training materials in the third-step.  The second step starts with detailed assay of common-off-the-shelf (COTS) components that can be integrated, with minimal developmental effort, to provide technology solutions to the “gaps” identified during the needs assessment.  The technology-solutions were ranked for safety, ease-of-use, and the level of expert technological-support needed for continued use.  The selected solutions were presented to a test-audience within a simulated home environment.  The third step involves the development of appropriate training-material and product testing in real homes of the target group.

We have successfully implemented the first two steps of the aforementioned methodology in the development of a product that integrates smart light bulbs, smart doorbells, and robotic vacuums at a senior living facility near the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  We expect to complete the third-step by March 2020, in time for the final presentation at the conference.  

We are implementing the same methodology for a different activity domain, namely healthcare activities.  We currently in the early-stages first-step in the development of a product that can provide health reminders (e.g., medication, hydration) to the target group.  We expect to present the results of the first two steps of the methodology for this product at the conference, as well. 


[1] Koon, L. M., McGlynn, S. A., Blocker, K. A., and Rogers, W. A. (2019). Perceptions of Digital Assistants From Early Adopters Aged 55+. Ergonomics in Design, April, 2019, DOI-1064804619842501

Published in: 10th Annual International Conference on Industrial Engineering and Operations Management, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Publisher: IEOM Society International
Date of Conference: March 10-12, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5323-5952-1
ISSN/E-ISSN: 2169-8767