Life Lab (Digital Technology Core)

Using technology to observe and learn how older adults age at home

The Life Lab (also known as the Digital Technology Core) is one of ORCATECH's first research initiatives. Using a diverse lineup of digital sensors and devices installed in research participants' homes, this "living laboratory" observes how older adults age over time in their homes. Hundreds of participants are in the Life Lab, some of who have been enrolled for over twenty years.

The Life Lab is also a testing ground for new technologies, some of which will become part of the ORCATECH Technology Platform and be used in other research studies. These devices and sensors can gather, share, and send data about everyday activities, such as walking, driving, medication taking and sleeping habits.

Trained ORCATECH data scientists then evaluate the data about behavioral activity; this process of gathering data has the potential to paint a clearer and more objective picture of how someone ages at home, or “ages in place”. Having a clearer picture can help older adults plan for their future needs and help them continue living healthy and independent lives at home.

ORCATECH tech assistants will come to your home and install a network of sensors and smart devices.

Except for periodic memory testing conducted by one of our researchers, the only thing you'll have to do is go about your daily routines. The sensors and devices will measure your activities. 

Every once in a while, you might be asked to have a new sensor or device installed in your home.

Please contact Zach Beattie,  PhD, the Director of the Digital Technology Core (Life Lab), for more information about: 

  • Registering for the study
  • Using our data in a research project or publication
  • Collaborating with the Life Lab/Digital Technology Core team

Email: beattiez@ohsu.edu 

Older research participant cleans glass in kitchen while wearing digital watch
A research participant wears a digital watch that is part of the ORCATECH technology platform

Improving healthcare

The Life Lab has the potential of improving how clinics and hospitals care for older adults. By having a more objective picture of a patient's well-being, clinicians can spend less time gathering information from a patient's self-report and more time creating a customized healthcare plan. 

The Life Lab can detect changes in a person's lifestyle, including: 

  • Walking speed, which could predict a fall
  • How often a person leaves their home, which could indicate different social habits
  • Medication taking habits, which could predict various healthcare or memory issues
  • Sleeping patterns, which could indicate various healthcare issues as well 

Our technology

Many sensors and devices are part of the Digital Technology Core/Life Lab. 

Our data

Countless hours of data are gathered from the Digital Technology Core/Life Lab. 

Research participant sits on an armchair reading a book in a living room
A Life Lab participant wears a smart watch while a wall sensor measures movement.