About
The Healthy Home Laboratory

About
The Healthy Home Laboratory

About
The Healthy Home Laboratory

Our Vision & Mission

Our collective vision is a world where all individuals can age safely and independently in the comfort of their home and enjoy healthy and vibrant lives at home and in their community.

Our mission is to create new technology solutions and support services that enable people to live safely and independently at home.

Our Vision & Mission
Our Motivation

Our Motivation

As the old saying goes “Home is where the heart is.” When we consider that people now spend more than 80% of their waking and sleeping hours at home, it is even more true that “Home is where the health is.” While the home symbolizes security and supports good health, for too many, home can be a source of unhealthy conditions, safety risks, and exposure to environmental hazards. We strive to make all homes a source of health and well-being.

By 2050, the U.S. population over 65 will almost double to reach 83.7 million, and the number of people 85 and over living alone will quadruple. The majority of seniors and people with disabilities prefer to remain in their homes and age-in-place. However, according to U.S. Census Bureau, nationally, only about 10% of homes are “aging-ready”, and in the northeastern U.S. in places like Pittsburgh most homes were constructed before the 1930’s.

Older homes were not designed to support individuals as they age and pose unique challenges and barriers for aging-in-place. These homes often:

  • have steep and narrow entry steps and stairways, bedrooms and full bathrooms on the second floor, and lack any type of accessibility features,
  • expose individuals to environmental pollutants and chemicals due to antiquated building methods, creating a risk for poor health outcomes, and
  • require a considerable number of modifications to accommodate aging and disability needs, and insurance coverage for these modifications is often limited.

To tackle these challenges, we launched the Healthy Home Laboratory (HHL). The HHL is a community laboratory that brings the best science into home settings to maximize human health and safety. We believe that with the appropriate combination of evidence-based support services, home modifications, and technology, individuals can age safely and independently in their own home.

Assisting Elder
House

The University of Pittsburgh has acquired a 105-year-old demonstration home for the HHL that typifies the older housing stock where many people live.

Our HHL house serves as a community-based laboratory to research, design, develop, and evaluate technology, assessments, services, and interventions. Combined with the University’s world-class research and development facilities, the HHL is a living laboratory for real-world interventions and best practices on how to adapt and equip a home to support individuals as they age and as their needs and abilities change at various stages of their life.

Meet Our Team

Founded in 1787, the University of Pittsburgh is among the nation’s top research universities, and we excel at solving complex health challenges through interdisciplinary scientific collaborations and partnerships. As housing has emerged as a key social determinant of health, teams from across the university have come together to focus our collective energies on maximizing the impact of the home on health and well-being.

Jon Pearlman

Technology Team

Jon is an engineer, an entrepreneur, and an expert in assistive health technology design and evaluation. Jon directs the HHL technology team and helps to grow collaborations to scale the impact of the HHL activities.

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Dave Brienza

Technology Team

Dave is an engineer, clinical researcher, and expert in developing and evaluating rehabilitation technology. He works with HHL team members to identify product needs and opportunities and to develop solutions to fill those needs.

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Todd Hargroder

Technology Team

Todd is a serial entrepreneur with lived experience as a wheelchair user, has designed and commercialized Assistive Technology for over 35 years. Todd provides expert insight on product design, development and commercialization for the HHL.

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Paulina Villacreces

Technology Team

Paulina is an industrial designer, ergonomist, and entrepreneur, with expertise in research, design, development, and evaluation of assistive technology for people with disabilities. She serves as the Director of Product Development for the HHL.

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Rayhan Afsar

Technology Team

Rayhan is a mechanical engineer, roboticist, and expert in assistive technology development. As the Director of Engineering at HHL, he is responsible for directing effective, safe, and streamlined engineering practices and assists with the conceptualization, design, development, and evaluation of new and existing assistive technology.

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Yong Choi

Technology Team

Yong is a health informatics researcher and expert in digital health and smart home technologies. He works with HHL team members to design and evaluate smart home solutions to support the successful aging-in-place of older adults and to assist their family caregivers using human-centered design and co-design methodologies.

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Patricia Karg

Technology Team

Tricia is an engineer with expertise in clinical research and the evaluation of assistive technology performance and safety. She serves the HHL team as Director of Product Testing and Evaluation.

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Dan Ding

Technology Team

DD is an engineer and expert in inclusive smart technology design and evaluation. DD directs the PROMISE RERC on Wireless Technologies.

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Lindsey Morris

Technology Team

Lindsey is OTD, OTR/L is an occupational therapist and clinical research scientist. Her efforts focus on supporting the use of mainstream smart technologies and assistive technologies in occupation and community-based interventions to improve the health, participation, and quality of life of persons with disabilities and underserved populations.

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Zachary Roy

Technology Team

Zach is a bioengineer, artist, and an alumnus of the University of Pittsburgh currently working as a Technical Illustrator for the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology. Zach’s work is used to help in the marketing of HHL initiatives as well as assist with the product development of novel HHL technologies.

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Jack Fried

Technology Team

Jack is a mechanical engineer and recent graduate of Pitt’s Master of Rehabilitation Technology program. He is excited to join the HHL team as a research engineer for the PROMISE RERC on Wireless Technologies focusing on integrating mainstream smart technologies within the HHL home to assess and innovate accessibility in the home.

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William Ammer

Technology Team

Bill is an engineer and craftsman. He is an expert in wheelchair design and testing. Bill contributes to the design and fabrication of the innovations from the HHL.

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Alexandra Delazio

Technology Team

Alex is a bioengineer and medical product engineer with a focus on product design, development, validation and verification. Served as Director of Product Testing and Evaluation form January-October 2022.

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Dounia Hassar

Technology Team

Dounia is an engineer and designer passionate about assistive technologies. She takes part in multiple HHL projects in order to design innovative products to improve accessibility for all in the home.

Student Intern Summer 2022

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Alexandra Barret

Technology Team

Alex is a graduate student with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biomedical Engineering from Virginia Tech. She works with the HHL team to design and develop assistive technologies.

Student Intern Summer 2022

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Wentao Wu

Technology Team

Wentao is a software engineer intern and a rising senior majoring in computer science. He investigates the accessibility and usability of various integration solutions of mainstream smart home technologies into the Healthy Home Laboratory.

Student Intern Summer 2022

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Pamela Toto

Services & Interventions Team

Pam is an occupational therapist with clinical, teaching and research expertise in reducing and delaying disability in older adults. Pam is an HHL senior leader in implementing evidence-based programs to promote successful aging in place.

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Mark Schmeler

Services & Interventions Team

Mark Is an Occupational Therapist, Assistive Technology Professional, and a longtime advocate for people with disabilities to live and participate in their communities with any and all necessary accommodations. He supports the HHL with his expertise and perspectives as a clinician, person with a disability, and policy researcher.

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Anne Newman

Services & Interventions Team

Anne is an expert in geriatric medicine and co-directs the Pitt Pepper Center. She consults with HHL project teams on physical and cognitive function, as well as successful aging and longevity.

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Carissa Low

Services & Interventions Team

Carissa is a behavioral scientist and expert in mobile sensing of health and functioning. She is the Director of Mobile Sensing & Health Institute (MOSHI) and works with the HHL team to consider the role of wearable and other patient-centered sensors in measuring activities in the home.

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Allyson LaCovey

Services & Interventions Team

Ally supports the day-to-day administrative and financial activities of the HHL.

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Anthony Delitto

Services & Interventions Team

Tony is a physical therapist and Dean of the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. He brings together practitioners and researchers and collaborates on HHL projects.

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Thomas Platt

Services & Interventions Team

Tom is an EMS educator with over 40 years of experience as a provider and Educator. Tom oversees the undergraduate program in emergency medicine.

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Christopher Matek

Services & Interventions Team

Chris is a Community Paramedic with over 35 years of EMS experience. Chris has been the director of Community Paramedic programs and is the lead faculty for community paramedicine in the Emergency Medicine Program at Pitt.

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Heidi Donovan

Services & Interventions Team

Heidi is a nurse, scientist, and caregiver with expertise in designing ehealth interventions to support families managing cancer and other chronic illnesses. Heidi co-directs the National Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Family Support (NCFS) to advance family caregiving research policy and practice.

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Chris Chovan

Assessment Team

Chris is an occupational therapist with over two and half decades of clinical experience working primarily in the area of home-based services related to home modifications, aging in place, wheelchair seating and mobility and other specialty assistive technologies. Chris brings this experience to the HHL team and provides clinical guidance related to evaluation, in-home services and product development.

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Andi Saptono

Assessment Team

Andi is a Health Informatics faculty at the University of Pittsburgh with an extensive experience in researching and developing Digital Health innovation and technologies. He co-leads the informatics team for the development and testing of a tech-enabled home assessment tool.

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Steven Albert

Assessment Team

Steve is a public health gerontologist interested in the social determinants of health. His research examines the value of aging services, such as subsidies for prescriptions and housing, to prevent disability in old age. He works with HHL on next generation assessment tools that can be used by aging services providers.

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Bambang Parmanto

Assessment Team

Bambang is a computer and information scientist and Chair of Pitt’s Department of Health Information Management. He co-leads the informatics team for the development and testing of tech-enabled assessment, caregiving and self-management tools.

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Scott Beach

Assessment Team

Scott has expertise in family caregiving, aging and technology, and survey research methodology. He provides access to community members for testing HHL technologies; and supports data collection, statistical analyses and evaluation activities.

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Christopher Briem

Assessment Team

Christopher is a regional economist at the University Center for Social and Urban Research with over 20 years of experience studying regional competitiveness and demographics. Chris advises the HHL on demographics of aging and demographic change trends in the Pittsburgh region.

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Meredith Hughes

Assessment Team

Meredith is a trained attorney and policy expert in Medicaid, aging services, and long-term care. She provides state and federal regulatory research and analytical support for the HHL team.

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Jennifer McCartney

Assessment Team
Jenn is a public health graduate student with expertise in healthcare architecture and design, policy advocacy, and street medicine. She assists in grant writing, fall prevention research, and graphic design for HHL.

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Zhendong (Tony) Wang

Assessment Team

Zhendong (Tony) is a software engineer and AI export from Pitt SCI. He works for the HHL team to build the software system and incorporate new technology like Lidar Camera for 3D scanning and measurement.

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Everette James

Assessment Team

Everette is a policy expert, lawyer, and former Pennsylvania Secretary of Health. He secures project funding and works for the HHL team to understand the reimbursement and regulatory environment for each product and service.

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Julie Faieta

Assessment Team

Julie is a clinician scientist with a background in occupational therapy. Her work with the HHL team stems from her experience in smart technology evaluation for cognitively impaired populations.

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Meet Our Partners

The work of the Healthy Home Laboratory is accomplished in partnership with industry,
government, non-profit and community stakeholders, and other academic institutions.

Center for Aging and Population Health
University of Pittsburgh National Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Family Support
Center for Caregiving Research Education and Policy
Pittsburgh Pepper Center
UPMC Life Changing Medicine
Allegheny County Department of Human Services
Department of Veterans Affairs
Impact
Pennsylvania Department of Aging
Administration for Community Living
Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center
Wireless RERC

Meet Our Partners

The work of the Healthy Home Laboratory is accomplished in partnership with industry,
government, non-profit and community stakeholders, and other academic institutions.

Center for Aging and Population Health
University of Pittsburgh National Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Family Support
Center for Caregiving Research Education and Policy
Pittsburgh Pepper Center
UPMC Life Changing Medicine
Allegheny County Department of Human Services
Department of Veterans Affairs
Impact
Pennsylvania Department of Aging
Administration for Community Living
Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center
Wireless RERC