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Engaging people with disabilities in the usability testing of smart home products

As part of the RERC on Universal Design and the Built Environment (RERC-UD), researchers at the IDEA Center are currently studying the usability of several smart home products for people with disabilities. The study includes seven commercially available products that are controlled by either voice or a smartphone application. Products include: a voice assistant (e.g., Amazon “Alexa”); a video doorbell; a robotic vacuum cleaner; a tracker device that helps users find temporarily misplaced belongings (e.g., “car keys”); and, a smart plug that allows users to control the on/off function of lamps and other home appliances. The study sample includes adult wheelchair users, adults with vision impairment, adults over the age of 65, occupational therapists and usability experts, able-bodied adults under 65 years of age simulating disability, and adults under the age of 65. Participants spend approximately 2.5 hours engaging in various tasks and responding to a few questions on the usability of each device. The study seeks to understand the impact of including people with disabilities in usability testing for product development.

We are still recruiting participants for this study, which takes place at the University of Buffalo’s South Campus. If you are interested in participating, please email jj254@buffalo.edu or call (716)-829-5922.