Young Latin American woman helping a senior woman paying her bills online on her laptop - lifestyle concepts
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A new research center will examine how digital technologies, including artificial intelligence and virtual reality, can help provide treatment to older adults living with Alzheimer’s disease and other clinical conditions.

The researchers recently received $3 million in funding for a “living lab” that will function as a residence, including living room, kitchen and bathroom, for senior participants. It will deploy various smart technologies, including sensors, lift systems and special lighting systems, the CBC reported

Although the research ostensibly is to assist older adults living at home, the technology uses involved, including sensors and robotics, often are equally applicable among independent living and community living settings for older adults.

The research will take place at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. 

In addition to the interior living research space, UM also is launching an outdoor component  that will test technology for older adults with mobility concerns, and how solutions can be addressed for those who have to move through cold-weather climates, according to UM’s Health Sciences research chairwoman, Jacquie Ripat, PhD. 

“I believe we are just on the cusp of the technological revolution,” Ripat said in a statement. “In the coming years, we can expect to witness the widespread adoption of social robots, augmented and virtual reality to address social isolation, and the integration of sensors into homes and even clothing to provide monitoring and support.”

In addition to physical applications, such as for lighting, the seniors living in the research space also will test out smartphone apps and other digital tools geared toward health diagnoses.

Many recent collaborations between universities and senior living providers involve caregiving training, as opposed to pure tech trial runs.

Conversely, senior living communities often are testing grounds themselves for university research, such as how residents perceive the introduction of robots.