fects are often dependent on the context, and the adaptive technologies will radically change this context.

Federal and private initiatives to advance adaptive technologies are extensive in the fields of biomedicine and bioengineering. They include everything from the support of the development of full-scale doctoral degree programs (the Whitaker Foundation) to the support of small projects to be undertaken by undergraduates in engineering with clients who have one or more disabilities (the National Science Foundation). However, no programs currently exist at the federal level that specifically target research that advances understanding of the basic cognitive behaviors in older adults that could serve as the foundation for the design of adaptive technologies.

The chapter is divided into four sections. The first section discusses the most promising of the new technologies (hardware and software) that have been developed for sensing environmental and behavioral information. The second section identifies a similarly promising group of new technologies that can be used to display information to individuals. The third section discusses powerful modeling tools that can be used to infer the behavior of individuals from the much more detailed record that the new sensing technologies provide. It also shows how these tools can lead directly to the development of a next generation of personalized, highly interactive interfaces that themselves increase the adaptivity of existing technologies. The final section discusses current and future applications of these technologies and identifies the basic research in cognitive aging that would be needed to carry forward the applications.


Advances in technologies are making it possible to put sensors and processors in locations that heretofore had been inaccessible. Advances in algorithms are making it possible to process intelligently and in real time the extraordinary amounts of data that can now be gathered by these devices. Increases in the raw speed of processing information are one major factor contributing to these advances. There is every likelihood that these increases will continue into the foreseeable future. Equally important in the domain of sensing is the development of microelectromechanical systems. They are defined as three-dimensional mechanical or electromechanical components/ devices with sizes in the micrometer range, such as micro gears, beams, pumps, motors, hinges, and switches. These microscopic devices are designed to create controllable mechanical motions, which are the basis for a wide range of sensors, actuators, or mechanical structures that have been used in both industrial and commercial applications. Discussed below are new technologies for sensing environmental variables, integrating environmental informa-

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