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Technology and health care for the elderly medical research studies

Focus on strategic priorities that have significant social impact.

HTIG 2014-21

Tecla Shield 3.0

This project made use of cutting-edge, rapid prototyping technologies (3D-printing), open source software and emerging mobile accessibility techniques, to create an end-to-end solution that enables simple access to mobile technologies for the elderly.

Research Results

Findings: Greater need for standards between devices, particularly for older frail users who might not have the capacity or resources to problem solve at the level required in order to make devices work for their needs and enjoyment. Proof-of concept, developed based on interviews with users and clinicians, is currently undergoing testing with users at home and in clinical settings. This will allow us to prioritize features present in the first iterations of the software application and guide the design of the user interface. The hardware that will support control of external devices (e.g. hospital bed controls, wheelchair functions) is currently under development for a scheduled release of Summer 2016.

Impact of findings: Our target user consists of frail elderly individuals with limited mobility and due to lack of familiarity with technology, find it difficult to use a touch-screen device.

Publications, presentations and webinars

About the Project

Older adults, particularly the frail elderly have had few options to support communication other than those that have been designed for others with disabilities. Even so, the technologies supporting people with disabilities have traditionally relied on single-purpose, heavy and costly “made for the disabled” technologies, most of which are outdated and designed to comply with byzantine funding frameworks instead of being designed around user needs. These obsolete devices can be easily replaced by mobile apps and accessories at a fraction of the cost. Tecla, made by Komodo OpenLab, unlocks the capabilities and benefits of cutting-edge mobile technologies for those who, due to disease or disability, find it impossible to use a touch-screen. Thanks to Tecla, individuals with physical impairments such as spinal cord injuries (quadriplegia), brain injury and stroke are now able to access smartphones and tablets. However, these interfaces are still challenging for users that have not have previous experience using computers and other devices like smartphones and tablets.

For more details on the project rationale, objectives and research plan, click here.

Project Team

Principal Investigator:

Deborah Fels, PhD, PEng -- Ryerson University


Margot Whitfield -- Ryerson University

Project Contact: Deborah Fels --

HTIG 2014-21