Institute for Computer Research seminar
"Technologies for aging gracefully"
(NOTE: After the seminar, interested students are welcome to meet with Prof. Baecker in the ICR Boardroom from noon until 1 pm, and have a sandwich lunch, and discuss his work and graduate studies at U of T.)
Prof. Ron Baecker Technologies for Aging Gracefully lab (TAGlab), University of Toronto
Tuesday, Sep. 27, 2011
University of Waterloo, Davis Centre, Room DC 1304
The percentage of senior citizens worldwide continues to grow. In response to this demographics, our research aims to envision, prototype, design, build, evaluate, and sometimes commercialize powerful and flexible electronic aids to support graceful aging. Unlike technology for seniors that is designed for remote monitoring, problem detection, and intelligent assistance, our aim is to empower older adults and their families to help themselves. TAGlab conducts “research for the journey through life.” We choose projects that respond to human needs as characterized by Abraham Maslow. Maslow speaks of the following levels of needs: physiological, safety, love/belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. Our work is primarily at the top three levels. We shall begin at top-level by reporting on projects that employ multimedia and other lifelogging technologies to help individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment to be better able to remember and reminisce about experiences over a lifetime or about recent events and activities. Other projects seek to enhance seniors’ autonomy and esteem. MyVoice, recently launched as a company, is a context-aware mobile app that aids individuals with aphasia and children with learning challenges to recall words and to speak. Tangra, a response to the wave of interest in brain fitness games and exercises, facilitates the scientific evaluation over the internet of such interventions. ALLT, the accessible large-print listening and talking eBook, aids reading by individuals who have vision loss or people with motor obstacles to holding books or turning pages. One response to Maslow’s need for love or belonging is our research aimed at understanding the communication patterns and needs of people who are isolated and lonely because of situations such as chronic pain or long-term hospitalization, and the development of novel technologies such as digital communicating picture frames to aid family communication. Some of our projects respond to multiple needs. For example, ALLT views reading as a social and collaborative activity and supports reading by and with family members. The projects to be presented in detail and others we shall briefly mention are interventions that support cognition and communication, generate feelings of efficacy, and enhance one’s sense of identity and relationships with family, friends, and caregivers. I am grateful to the talented and dedicated team at TAGlab; to our collaborators including researchers and clinicians at Baycrest, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and OCADU; to the Alzheimer’s Association, Google Research, the GRAND Network of Centres of Excellence of Canada, Microsoft Research, NSERC, and the University of Toronto Connaught Fund for grant support; and to participants in our research studies for their generous contribution of time, energy, and ideas.
Ron Baecker is Professor of Computer Science, Bell Chair in Human-Computer Interaction, co-founder of the Dynamic Graphics Project, founder of the Knowledge Media Design Institute, and founder and director of the Technologies for Aging Gracefully lab (TAGlab) at the University of Toronto. He is also Affiliate Scientist with the Kunin-Lunenfeld Applied Research Unit of Baycrest and Adjunct Scientist with the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. He has been named one of the 60 Pioneers of Computer Graphics by ACM SIGGRAPH, has been elected to the CHI (Computers and Human Interaction) Academy by ACM SIGCHI, and has been given the Canadian Human Computer Communications Society Achievement Award. His B.Sc., M.Sc., and Ph.D. are from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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