University Park, PA. On Tuesday, May 3, 2011 at 10a.m. Penn State’s Department of Architectural Engineering and its Smart Spaces Center for Adaptive Aging in Community celebrated progress made in a coordinated effort to reduce the cost of housing for Pennsylvania’s elderly and disabled residents today and in the future.
The celebration took place at the virtual reality Immersive Construction (ICon) Laboratory. The celebration:
- Demonstrated the use of full-scale 3-D virtual models on large display screens for evaluating cost-effective designs to allow for aging in place. The animated model, based on the Blueroof Technologies housing initiative in McKeesport, PA, is the work of graduate student Sonali Kumar. The virtual reality approach allows for an avatar to enter the wheel-chair accessible cottage and evaluate tasks such as making coffee in a kitchen to appropriately design for residents who desire housing where they can grow old without having to move to a costly institution.
- Allowed participants to meet the leaders of Blueroof Technologies in McKeesport, PA using a live video connection. Blueroof is using prefabricated housing with embedded sensors for improving user interaction with their residence. The environment can inform a resident when to take medication, monitor for falls (then, call 911 if the resident slips in the shower and does not get up), and provide televised links to medical facilities reducing routine medical care cost.
- Show the work of the Computer Integrated Construction Research Program, directed by John Messner, associate professor of architectural engineering, focusing on the application of advanced computer modeling to improve the design, construction, and operation processes for buildings.
- Present the work of architectural engineering students trained in using 3-D experienced-based design. Virtual modeling is rapidly becoming an important tool for the construction industry, providing the ability to make changes in health care and other facilities before construction actually takes place.
- Provide an opportunity for residents of Addison Court, a State College independent living facility for elderly and disabled individuals, to see what the future will bring and serve as critics who can use their life experiences to aid in the design process.
- Highlight the work of Penn State’s Smart Spaces Center, directed by Richard Behr, who leads an interdisciplinary effort to address the needs of the rapidly increasing number of baby boomer Americans who wish to age successfully in their own homes.
- Recognize contributions made by the Raymond A. Bowers Program for Excellence in Design and Construction of the Built Environment, the Smart Spaces Center, the Partnership for Achieving Construction Excellence, and other private and public organizations working with Penn State to improve life for Pennsylvania’s elderly and disabled.
- Using a scooter from Amigo Mobility, Blueroof will begin to experiment on how to help residents with mobility disabilities make better use of the technology around them. The Amigo scooter will have an iPad 2 and other remote devices so residents can turn the lights on and off and perform other functions without leaving the chair.