IGERT fellows participate in the development of technology solutions that not only will result in the design of assistive and rehabilitative devices, but also will provide general guidelines on incorporating person-centeredness into the components of design, development, and adaptation. Sample project areas include:
Integrating Versatility with Simplicity in Product Design
Products and services for individuals with disabilities are often developed with a “one size fits all” approach, forcing the individual to adapt, compromise, and sustain discomfort or even injury. In order to address the diverse physiological, cognitive, emotional, social and cultural needs of all members of society, designers and engineers must work cooperatively with people with disabilities and other relevant individuals to develop cross-disciplinary product design methodologies.
Behavior Modeling for User-centered Design of Assistive and Rehabilitative Technologies
Although the human body is characterized by a very complex structure, research on specific components of functional performance (for example, human hand control) has shown that its large number of postures and movements can be described by a few coordination patterns. Thus, to provide efficient and effective assistance for an individual with a disability, it is imperative to use knowledge of human behavior to optimize technology for interacting with the individual. Advances in theories related to human behavior will enhance the person-centeredness involved in creating unique assistive, rehabilitative, and universally accessible devices.
Computational Models for Adaptive Technologies
Adaptivity, the automatic tailoring of solutions for diverse and changing user needs, is a key requirement for the development and implementation of complex assistive devices. The ability of a device (or technology) to adapt to an individual’s needs carries a number of practical challenges. Recent developments in computational methods have the potential to provide a different approach to technology design – one that ensures complete inclusion of people with disabilities into today’s information society.