Florida Tech funding increases for Alzheimer's care technology

A recent $400,000 contract energizes the drive of two Florida Tech professors to develop information and communication technology (ICT) that promote quality of life for caregivers of Alzheimer's disease patients. Dr. Annie Becker, director of the Florida Tech National Center for Small Business Information, received the contract from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality of the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services.

The project, called Buddy Computer Coordinated Healthcare System (or, Buddy for short), supports quality of life and aging-in-place initiatives. Buddy takes advantage of information and communication technology in linking caregivers to a virtual support network of family and friends. PocketPCs are used by caregivers to obtain information about healthcare, be reminded of daily events and activities, and to record family information in a journal. Family, friends and healthcare personnel stay connected through the Web by a "buddy blog" that provides controlled access to information gathered by the PocketPC.

Related to this award, Becker and Dr. Frank Webbe, Florida Tech professor of psychology, received $200,000 from the Alzheimer's Association (in partnership with Intel Corporation and Agilent Technologies) to use ICT for caregivers to stay socially active through virtual connections with support networks of other caregivers, family and friends. The PocketPC would be used for text messaging, e-mail and for playing virtual games with other caregivers and family members. Family, friends and other caregivers have an opportunity to stay virtually connected through a Web interface. In both projects, ICT could bridge the time and space barriers, which often separate loved ones. The pair, with the help of student researchers, will combine their expertise in psychology and information systems/computer science in the project's development.

Becker brings the technology skills to the interface appearance and system usability. She will also

Contact: Jay Wilson
Florida Institute of Technology

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