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IBM tips open source tech for senior workers

Posted: 23 Nov 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:open source technology? software? intellectual property?

IBM Corp. has partnered with researchers from the University of Dundee's School of Computing in the United Kingdom and the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine to develop open source technology for older workers.

The partnership is part of IBM's Open Collaborative Research (OCR) program, which encourages ties between IBM and universities. The company aims to provide technology for people with age-related disabilities, as large portions of workforces in developed countries near retirement age and the pool of younger workers decreases.

Researchers from the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center and Professors Peter Gregor from the University of Dundee and Sara Czaja from the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine will target training and collaboration technologies to meet the needs of older workers.

"Older workers represent an extremely valuable resource," Czaja said. "However, they need to have tools available to them to be able to compete in today" technology driven workplace."

Researchers from Miami's Miller School of Medicine will build on findings from the Center for Research and Education on Aging and Technology Enhancement (CREATE) and the Center on Aging. CREATE is a multidisciplinary center, funded by the National Institutes on Aging, with research teams from the University of Miami, Florida State University, and Georgia Institute of Technology.

Miami's program focuses on technology in job settings, analyzing training programs and design e-learning software that works for older adults.

Meanwhile, the University of Dundee's Assistive and Healthcare Technologies Group includes eight faculty, three full professors and a Royal Society of Edinburgh Fellow, who focus on assistive technologies. The university will provide researchers from the School of Computing, as well as those specializing in psychology, media arts and imaging, and design.

The researchers will publish open source software code and all additional intellectual property developed through the projects or release it royalty-free, IBM said.

"This collaboration is a superb opportunity for the group in Dundee to apply our wide experience of research with older people, and of developing better ways of accessing technology, in an exciting new transatlantic partnership with IBM and the Miller Medical School in Miami," Gregor, head of the School of Computing at the University of Dundee, said in a statement. "The open source focus makes the challenges particularly rewarding because it means that knowledge gained and systems developed will be available freely to the people who need them and to other developers."

IBM's research team has worked for several years on Website usability for older adults and created software for older users. "IBM strives to aid companies in developing solutions to accommodate the maturing workforce, as well as prolong and increase productivity," Vicki Hanson, accessibility manager for IBM Research, said in a statement.

- K.C. Jones

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