Archived Projects

Below is a list of archived projects conducted in the HFA lab. For more information on these projects, please either refer to our publication page, or contact the lab PI, Wendy Rogers.

Knowledge and Automation

This study seeks to understand how individuals interpret, and react to automation imperfections. Kimberly Preusse is utilizing an everyday automation, wearable activity trackers, to assess how users troubleshoot when automation imperfections occur.

Understanding Acceptance of Wellness Management Technologies Among Older Adults

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.

Identifying Strategies to Keep Older Adults Healthy in Senior Living Communities

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.

Understanding Use Errors for Medical Devices

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.

Understanding Older Adults’ Memory Issues in the Home

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

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.

Age-related Differences in Fraction Comparison

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.

Human Factors Issues of Home Health Care Providers

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

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).

 Understanding Effects of Robot Appearance and Task

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.

Understanding Perceived Usefulness of Robots of Varying Autonomy

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.

Understanding Attitudes of Healthcare Providers toward Assistive Robotics

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 for Older Adults at Home

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

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.

 Understanding Human Management of Automation Errors

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.


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 Complex Technology

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

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.

Supporting Older Adults’ Independence in the Home

We have conducted focus studies with older adults in the community to understand their needs in aging in place. This study was designed to inform us about the tasks that older adults must do to maintain their homes and the changes that older adults have made to their behaviors or to their homes to help overcome challenges to aging in place. The results suggest that older adults continue to perform a wide range of home maintenance tasks. Furthermore, older adults described difficulties in performing these tasks but managed these difficulties through means such as modifying their behavior, cessation of the task, outsourcing the task, or using tools/technologies to assist them.

Effect of Workload on Automation Dependence

Current literature suggests that older adults typically depend on automation to a greater degree because they experience greater mental workload as compared to younger adults. However, this claim has not been systematically investigated. In this study, we will manipulate mental workload so that participants either experience low, moderate, or high workload. Our investigation hopes to determine whether there are any age differences in terms of dependence across the three workload groups, as well as whether individuals change their dependence strategies over time.

Comprehension of Health Risk Probabilities

The details of how and what people understand when presented with a probability are not well understood, nor how the factors of format and numeracy influence comprehension and mental representations of probabilities for younger and older adults. The goal of this research study is to investigate how these factors interact and influence comprehension of probabilities. The data obtained will provide empirical support for risk probability presentation guidelines.

Recognizing Facial Expressions of Virtual Agents and Robots

Traditionally, robots and virtual agents have been developed in the context of military and industry domains. However, more recent improvements in technology have allowed for agents to be developed for home and healthcare settings. Making better agents is not only about improving technology. It is crucial to understand issues related to social characteristics of agents that promote optimal interaction. Facial expressions are one of the most important mediums for communicating emotional state. The goal of this study is to better understand how people recognize and label emotions displayed by an agent.

Dynamic Formation of Emotion in a Virtual Agent

The question is not whether intelligent machines can have any emotions, but whether machines can be intelligent without any emotions” (Minsky, 1988, p. 163). Emotions are important for not only human-human social interactions but also for those between human and agent. If a virtual agent or robot does not express emotion, it may be perceived as unapproachable or indifferent to human interaction. To encourage interaction, such as when a robot assists a person in the home, agents should display emotion that is recognizable to people. One way to display emotion is through facial expressions. The purpose of this study is to investigate age-related differences in how individuals recognize dynamic formation of emotion in a virtual agent.

Understanding the Construct of Perceived Ease of Use

Variables within the technology acceptance model have been shown to predict the acceptance of different technologies. However, variables that precede them are not well understood. The goal of this study is to explore potential precursor variables for perceived ease of use, like beliefs about a technology or complexity, and to understand the relationships these variables have with each other and the construct of perceived ease of use.

Age Differences in Technologies Used

Previous analysis of the CREATE I data has shown age differences in the use of computers and technology. Yet, the studies do not clearly depict why and when there are age-related differences in computer and technology use. By reviewing the CREATE II data, we will describe technology use for older and younger adults with a focus on technology type, frequency of use, and domain of use.

Technology Use by Older Adults

Technology has the potential to improve the quality of life of older adults and to provide support for age-associated declines. We conducted focus groups to better understand the needs and preferences of older adults concerning technology and technology training. The focus groups were conducted at three sites: Georgia Institute of Technology, Florida State University, and University of Miami. We asked older adults which technology items they use and the frequency with which they use them, what they like and dislike about each item, what type of training they think is best for each item, for what tasks they need training, and what methods of training they think would be useful to learn each task. Our goal is to gather information about older adults’ experiences with technology in their everyday lives to provide a basis for research to examine potential technology design and training improvements. We found that older adults are using a wide variety of technologies, particularly in their homes. Moreover, older adults reported more likes than dislike of technology. The most frequent reasons provided for liking technology included convenience, features, and support for activities. The most frequent reasons reported for disliking technology included inconvenience and concerns about security and reliability. The likes and dislikes reported by older adults in this study can be used by designers to make technologies that are more apt to meet the needs and preferences of older adults thereby making technology adoption more likely.