Author(s): Demiris G, Oliver DP, Dickey G, Skubic M, Rantz M
The aim of this paper is to present a participatory evaluation of an actual "smart home" project implemented in an independent retirement facility. Using the participatory evaluation process, residents guided the research team through development and implementation of the initial phase of a smart home project designed to assist residents to remain functionally independent and age in place. We recruited nine residents who provided permission to install the technology in their apartments. We conducted a total of 75 interviews and three observational sessions. Residents expressed overall positive perceptions of the sensor technologies and did not feel that these interfered with their daily activities. The process of adoption and acceptance of the sensors included three phases, familiarization, adjustment and curiosity, and full integration. Residents did not express privacy concerns. They provided detailed feedback and suggestions that were integrated into the redesign of the system. They also reported a sense of control resulting from their active involvement in the evaluation process. Observational sessions confirmed that the sensors were not noticeable and residents did not change their routines. The participatory evaluation approach not only empowers end-users but it also allows for the implementation of smart home systems that address residents' needs.