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Quality of Life Technology Engineering Research Center

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NSF Award:

Quality of Life Technology Engineering Research Center  (Carnegie-Mellon University)

Research Focus & Anticipated Benefits


The Quality of Life Technology (QoLT) Center's research deals with almost all aspects of human living. QoLT systems will affect people in different settings with different functionalities. The setting may be at home, providing personal support and help for daily living; it could be a neighborhood, where the systems help a person to engage in community activities; or it could be more societal where a person commutes to work and contributes to society through employment. In each setting, QoLT systems provide different forms of functionality: enhancing dexterity and mobility, helping with some home chores, supporting memory, coaching through job functions, helping to drive cars, and so on.

The approach to user involvement is characterized by incorporation of universal design principals; active involvement of all relevant stakeholders and a clear understanding of the circumstances of the target user and task requirements; multi-disciplinary research, design, and development processes involving users, engineers, designers, marketing, clinicians, service delivery, social and health professionals and an interactive development process.

This approach allows QoLT to produce prototypes and evaluate design solutions according to user criteria.  This process is defined as Participatory Action Design, which incorporates universal design, but includes much more stakeholder involvement than may be characteristic of current universal design.

The strategy encompasses a few QoLT systems that embody the vision as the focus, align engineering research and development efforts with them, develop a series of integrated prototypes in each family with progressively greater capability over the life span of the ERC, evaluate prototypes in the testbeds, and feed back findings into the main research areas. 

Education & Outreach


A growing community of engineers, scientists, practitioners and consumers are intellectually prepared and motivated to create, assess, and apply technology to benefit people with disabilities and older adults.


The vision is to transform all stakeholders from technology and technology artifact users to technology inventors and influencers. The unique characteristics of QoLT are recognized including real-life narratives, integration across multiple disciplines, and direct impact on diverse stakeholder groups.


The education and outreach goals are to develop, enhance and disseminate curricula that emphasize participatory design, teamwork and cross-training; inspire and motivate students of all ages to embrace QoLT and empower people, especially individuals with disabilities, to be able to improve their own lives and the lives of people they know, through the application of engineering and design principles in concert with lateral and multi-disciplinary problem-solving.


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  • Image from a National Science Foundation-funded ERC.
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