Georgia Tech logo, followed by TechSage logo, followed by Illinois logo

D4. Digital Assistants to Support Health and Independence: Development and Instructional Support

Principal Investigator: 
Travis Kadylak, Ph.D & R. S. Sreenivas, Ph.D.
Wendy Rogers, Ph.D.
Project Alumni: 
Roshanak Khaleghi, M.S., Lyndsie Koon, Ph.D., & Cristopher Kovac, B.S.
OSF Healthcare; Post-Polio Health International; National Multiple Sclerosis Society; Clark-Lindsey Village; Disability Resources and Education Services (DRES); CRIS Health Aging; University of Chicago; National Opinion Research Center (NORC)

Individuals with long-term mobility disabilities are likely to experience challenges with activities at home, such as controlling their home environment, engaging in physical activity, interacting with others, and managing their health. Voice-activated digital assistants, such as the Amazon Alexa devices, have great potential to support this population in carrying out these activities as independently as possible at home with the ease of speaking commands. Alexa can be paired with a variety of smart home technologies, such as robotic vacuums and smart light bulbs, to help people with limited mobility complete activities at home as independently as possible. 

In this project, we are developing a suite of voice-activated digital assistant applications to support the health and independence of people aging with mobility disabilities. Lastly, since many older adults experience technical challenges with set up and use of these digital assistant devices, we will develop and test an instructional guide with clear step-by-step instructions to facilitate independent use. 

Learn more about how the apps and instructional guide developed in this project will be tested for efficacy and usefulness in the R2. Voice-Activated Digital Assistants Research Project.

Picture below: (left) A cognitive walk-through of instructional protocol for device set-up and use. (right) An adapted display model of a door with a traditional lock that can be fitted with the (Alexa adaptable) August Lock.


          participant and researcher during a cognitive walk through   adapted display model of a door that can use the August Lock.


Project Status: 

We developed our first two Amazon Echo User Guides. 

  • Basic Uses - This user guide provides a useful and easy-to-use tool to help you learn how to use your Amazon Echo device to its full potential. It features relevant resources and information that can help you learn common voice commands, customize settings, and resolve potential problems.
  • Setting Up - This user guide provides step-by-step, visual instructions to help you successfully set up your Amazon Echo device so it can be properly used to perform the actions or tasks that you want to do. Learn about the various Amazon Echo products, how to set up your Alexa account, and more, so you can gain the most benefits from these smart and connected technologies.

Cover Page of 'Amazon Echo User Guide: Basic Uses of Amazon Echo Devices' featuring an image of the Amazon Echo and logos for NIDILRR and TechSAgeCover Page of 'Amazon Echo User Guide: Setting Up your Amazon Echo Devices' featuring an image of the Amazon Echo and logos for NIDILRR and TechSAge

Select Publications: 

Koon, L. M., McGlynn, S. A., Blocker, K. A., & Rogers, W. A. (2019). Perceptions of Digital Assistants From Early Adopters Aged 55+. Ergonomics in Design, 1064804619842501.