BLOOMINGTON, Inc. – With a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation, Indiana University will establish a networked system of smart homes designed to advance research on older adults called Home SHARE.
“As far as we’re aware, this is the first large-scale research infrastructure project focused on smart homes,” said Kay Connelly, leader on the grant and an associate professor in the IU School of Informatics and Computing, in a statement. “Typically, research infrastructure awards help maintain complex systems like supercomputers, or the purchase of advanced equipment. In this case, we’re looking to generate research data from people who enroll in a long-term study.”
The funds from the NSF’s Computing Research Infrastructure Program will support the installation of high-tech sensors and other equipment in the homes of 15 elderly volunteers. The homeowners will also wear an activity tracker and participate in occasional surveys through a tablet.
An additional 15 homes will be similarly equipped near the University of Colorado at Denver, a co-recipient of the grant. Other partners on the project include the University of Virginia, the University of Washington and Clemson University.
Connelly said that simply understanding how people operate in their homes can provide significant insight into elderly citizens’ health and well-being.
“Studying activities of daily living is a big topic,” Connelly said. “It’s when people can no longer perform them that you start to see the need to bring assistants into the home, or the need to transfer to assisted-living facilities.”
All of the technology in the study will undergo user trials in a building near the IU campus that has been designed to provide a natural, home-like environment to interact with technology. A software system called Piloteur, developed by the University of Virginia, will be used to collect data from the homes.
The assessment of the technology, development of the software and establishment of an internal review board will take place in the first year of the project. The installation of the technology in one or two homes will take place at the end of 2017 or early 2018, with all 30 homes outfitted by the end of August 2019.