Human Factors Lab at Georgia Tech projects information

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Guide ImageOlder Adults

Guide ImageYounger Adults

Below is a list of current projects in the HFA lab. To view a list of past or completed projects, please visit our archived projects page.


Acceptance of Med Tech

Understanding Acceptance of Wellness Management Technologies Among Older Adults

Contact Person: Kimberly Preusse

Commercially available wellness monitoring technologies may have the potential to help users manage their health. These technologies allow users to log exercise, nutritional intake, and other measures important to them. One population that has the potential to benefit from wellness management technologies is older adults. In collaboration with GTRI’s HomeLab,( this project explores the attitudes of older adults towards these technologies over a prolonged usage period. We ask both what about the technology makes it more likely to be accepted and what about the individual makes him or her more likely to accept the technology. Understanding the opinions older adults have towards these technologies, such as their usefulness and ease of use, may help explain what facilities and what hinders acceptance.

Senior Living Communities

Identifying Strategies to Keep Older Adults Healthy in Senior Living Communities

Contact Person: Sara McBride

Many older adults choose to make the transition into senior living communities, such as independent living or assisted living. We are interested in understanding the types of strategies used and decisions made by staff in these types of communities that are aimed at supporting residents’ health. By identifying these processes, we may be able to improve training or design decision support systems that could facilitate portions of the decision making process.

Medical Errors

Understanding Use Errors for Medical Devices

Contact Person: Laura Barg-Walkow

Use error is when a user’s actions (or lack of actions) result in a different outcome than intended, possibly resulting in an adverse event. Use errors in medicine are especially important, as they can result in life-critical situations. This study is specifically investigating adverse events reported in the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Manufacturer and User Facility Device Experience (MAUDE) database. Through this, we will gain a better understanding of device use error in medicine. Knowing why and when use errors occur can potentially reduce adverse events in the future.

man thinking

Understanding Older Adults’ Memory Issues in the Home

Contact Person: Akanksha Prakash

This study is designed to investigate memory problems, demands, or challenges older adults encounter in their homes. We plan to systematically assess the issues people face within different categories of tasks in the home. The knowledge thus procured will aid in the design of effective home-based memory support systems.

Gist Memory Project

Gist Memory Project

Contact Person: Michael Morgan

Understanding how encoding behaviors relate to recall performance during a health-care teach-back procedure could help inform training guidelines to help improve memory for health-related information and improve decision-making in health-care situations. Previous research indicates that certain kinds of statements made during learning new information may be related to increased recall of that information in the future. This study is reanalyzing audio recordings of older and younger adults to investigate how non-solicited remarks correlate with recall performance during a health-care teach-back procedure.

Fraction Comparison

Age-related Differences in Fraction Comparison

Contact Person: Michael Morgan

Previous research suggests that understanding and using fractions is a difficult task, even for highly educated people. However, the use of fractions in relaying important information about healthcare and finances is a common practice. This study is investigating age-related differences on a fraction comparison task in order to support decision-making using fractions.

HF Issues Home Health Care

Human Factors Issues of Home Health Care Providers

Contact Person: Tracy Mitzner

As the older adult population rapidly grows and “aging in place” becomes more desirable and feasible, home health care is becoming an attractive alternative over traditional hospital based health care. Technological advances have made such home health care easier and available for a range of medical conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, and heart disease. However, homes are not designed as health care settings and medical equipment and devices are not necessarily designed for home use. Little research has been conducted in this area to explore what problems arise when health care takes place in a home setting. For this project we are performing an in-depth needs analysis to understand how human factors can successfully support home health care. We are interviewing Certified Nursing Assistants, Registered Nurses, Physical Therapists, and Occupational Therapists about the difficulties ands frustrations they encounter while providing their caregiving tasks. We are also asking them about their perceptions of older adults’ difficulties related to personal and health care. We will explore the sources of these difficulties as well as examine human factors interventions that can alleviate these issues and optimize the health care services that providers offer.

Pain Management Among Older Adults

Pain Management Among Older Adults

Contact Person: Laura Barg-Walkow

Many older adults have health conditions that involve chronic pain, such as osteoarthritis. To effectively manage their pain, older adults must have an understanding of how their pain is affected by various other factors, such as their activity level, mood, and medication regimen. With this knowledge, individuals may then be able to modify these factors to reduce their experience of pain. However, to accomplish this, older adults must be able to accurately and easily assess these factors, as well as understand the relationship among these factors. The purpose of this study is to determine the most effective method of measuring factors such as pain, mood, activity level and medication use. We will also investigate how to best present information about these factors to older adults to facilitate understanding of the relationships among these factors. This project is a collaboration between Aptima (Camilla Knott, Matt Puglisi, Jason Sidman), Georgia Tech (Wendy A. Rogers, Brian Jones, Sara McBride), the Georgia Tech Research Institute (Myung Choi), and the University of Alabama (Pat Parmelee).

Human Robot Interaction

Robot Appearance

Understanding Effects of Robot Appearance and Task

Contact Person: Akanksha Prakash

People can form positive or negative impressions of a robot based on its facial appearance. As many humanoid robots of varied appearances are being designed to assist people in their daily lives, it is becoming important to investigate the perceptions highly human-looking and less human-looking humanoid faces evoke in the user. People’s attitude toward a robot’s humanness may also be dependent on the nature of the task it performs. The goal of this study is to investigate how initial perceptions of humanoid robots are influenced by robot appearance and the task contexts. The ultimate aim is to use our results to guide the development of robots, such that they are designed to be acceptable by people.

Robot Autonomy

Understanding Perceived Usefulness of Robots of Varying Autonomy

Contact Person: Jenay Beer

Robots can range in autonomy level, from teleoperated to fully autonomous. Most robots fall somewhere in the middle of this continuum. We are investigating what level of autonomy would be most useful for older adults to receive assistance in the home. The appropriate level of autonomy may depend on the task, as well as the older adult's capability.

Healthcare Providers and Thoughts on Robots

Understanding Attitudes of Healthcare Providers toward Assistive Robotics

Contact Person: Tracy Mitzner, or Lorenza Tiberio

Understanding attitudes of healthcare providers’ toward the use of assistive robots is an important research topic that can explain the success or failure of implementation of robotic systems in care settings. Robotics systems cannot improve the quality of healthcare delivery and alleviate common challenges and difficulties that healthcare providers encounter if the robots are not accepted by end users. This study is aimed to investigate the factors affecting and predicting healthcare providers’ acceptance and intention to use of a specific assistive robot (Willow Garage’s Personal Robot 2 - PR2). Our objectives are (1) assessing healthcare providers’ openness toward assistive robots; (2) investigating healthcare providers’ acceptance about using PR2 in their daily work setting; and (3) identifing the tasks for which they would want assistance from robots.

Assistive Mobile Manipulation

Assistive Mobile Manipulation for Older Adults at Home

Contact Person: Tracy Mitzner, Jenay Beer, Cory-Ann Smarr, or Akanksha Prakash

This research is part of a two year, multi-disciplinary project, in collaboration with Georgia Tech's Healthcare Robotics Laboratory. There is great potential for robotics to support the needs of older adults. For this project, we will be conducting focus groups and interviews 1) to understand acceptance of robots by older adults and home healthcare providers, 2) to explore how exposure to an actual robot (Willow Garage PR2 Beta) impacts robotic acceptance, and 3) to understand the types of tasks with which older adults and home healthcare providers would want robotic assistance.

Understanding Acceptance of Personal Robots

Understanding Acceptance of Personal Robots

Contact Person: Cory-Ann Smarr

Personal robots are robots that entertain and assist people with non-professional tasks. Personal robots have the potential to help individuals with everyday living tasks at home. However, the benefit of using such robots is unrealized unless people accept, or use, robots. We are investigating what person, robot, task, and environment characteristics impact individuals' acceptance of personal robots at home.

Technology Use


Understanding Human Management of Automation Errors

Contact Person: Sara McBride

Automation has the potential to aid humans with a diverse set of tasks and support system performance in many contexts. However, automated systems are not always perfectly reliable, and this may pose a barrier to achieving the intended task success. When automation errs, the human must engage in error management, or the process of detecting, understanding, and correcting the error. It is the success of this process that determines whether the consequences of an error will come to pass. However, a systematic review of the variables that contribute to error management was lacking. The purpose of this project is to examine relevant research in the fields of human-automation interaction and human error, and create a qualitative model of error management that can be used to guide future investigations.



Contact Person: Tracy Mitzner

As part of the Center for Research and Education on Aging and Technology Enhancement (CREATE), we are conducting a Field Trial. The objective of this research study is to test and evaluate the impact of a Personalized Reminder Information and Social Management (PRISM) system designed to support social connectivity, memory, skill building, access to community resources, and to support the well-being and quality of life of older adults.

Trust in Technology

Trust in Complex Technology

Contact Person: Katherine Olson

Research suggests that trust is an important factor that influences the use of technologies. However, there are many factors that might influence a person’s trust. This project is investigating the several factors that influence trust in complex technologies for younger and older adults.


Computer Preferences and Usage for Older Adults

Contact Person: Tracy Mitzner

Computers have the potential to support older adults in their everyday lives. However, computers must be adopted to provide these benefits. Research suggests that computers must be perceived as useable and useful to be adopted. The goal of this study is to explore older adults’ perceptions regarding the usability and usefulness of computers and to understand their preferences regarding the design and content of computers.