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D3. Silver Skill-IT Mobile and Voice-Activated App Factory

Principal Investigator: 
Jon Sanford, M.Arch.
Amazon, Inc., Anthem, Inc., Microsoft.

For individuals with long-term disabilities, age-related changes can create additional challenges with daily activities that can make independent living extremely difficult. New technologies, such smart phones, and voice-activated assistants, such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant have enormous, yet untapped potential to facilitate independence in home and community activities by assisting these individuals to perform variety of household tasks, promote health, and overcome social isolation. Despite the promise of these new technologies, the people who could benefit most from their use often have most difficulty using them; operational tasks such as hearing voice assistants, seeing digital interfaces, speaking clearly, or hitting small touch buttons can create barriers to use for people with sensory and mobility limitations. To overcome these challenges, this project will develop new, universal design mobile and voice-activated software applications to support people aging-in-place with long-term disabilities. Annual design competitions will be held to identify innovative and commercially viable applications that have the potential to improve the lives of people aging with long-term disabilities. Winning applications will be offered additional resources by our competition sponsors, Amazon, Microsoft and Anthem, to develop prototypes and assist with commercialization.