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The Intelligent Design Engine for Assisted Living Technology (i-DEAL) project is funded by The Technology Strategy Board and The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

The TSB grant provides valuable R&D funding to two industry partners developing innovative new products for the Assisted Living sector. These products are largely focussed in the area of Telehealth (monitoring of long-term health conditions remotely) and Telecare (environmental control devices). All products being developed within the project aim to support independent living for people with long-term health conditions and physical and cognitive disabilities.

The i-DEAL project seeks to develop a range of new products in close consultation with end-users. One of the biggest challenges facing industry today is the development of Assisted Living products which meet the full range of user needs. This project brings together industry, academia and end-users to support current product development and devise an effective means of ensuring products are "fit for purpose".

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The Health Design Technology Institute (HDTI) is the research lead and tasked both with supporting the project SMEs in undertaking usability testing of their products and in developing a user-evaluation methodology.

We have developed a decision-support system - the Usability Testing Toolkit - which will support stakeholder involvement in the R&D cycles of assistive technologies. It will help both to define and simplify the user engagement process for SMEs developing products and services for the Assistive Living market by identifying the optimum methods to be used when seeking end-user opinion, taking into account the individual SME's needs, resources and stage of product development etc.

By supporting and guiding this decision-making it is anticipated that the toolkit could both facilitate and shorten the route to market for products and services being developed for the Assistive Living market, and also result in products and services being brought to market which are fit for purpose and which therefore have a greater likelihood of success in the marketplace.

For more information on this project, please contact Sharon Simkiss.

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