Jacob Ritchie (EngSci 1T6)

This summer, I had the chance to work at the Intelligent Assistive Technology and Systems Lab (IATSL) at the University of Toronto. The lab is cross-disciplinary, consisting of engineers, therapists and computer scientists working to create advanced technologies that solve problems in the field of Occupational Therapy.
I was tasked with taking over a dormant project, creating a new version of “Age-CAP”, a cross-platform mobile application that had been created by researchers at the lab in 2012.
Age-CAP stands for Age-Friendly Communities Assessment App – its goal is to facilitate the involvement of senior citizens in their communities, by allowing users to rate how senior-friendly different locations within a city are based on simple scales adapted from the World Health Organization.
The first version of Age-CAP had been in a pilot testing phase since October of 2012, and my work consisted of synthesizing the user feedback it had collected to create the next version of the application. We identified key design criteria such as responsiveness, penetration of multiple platforms and ease of use for older adults. One of the key goals was to expand the number of seniors who could easily make use of the app, so we developed new versions of the app for all major mobile platforms and for the web using the same base HTML5 code.
I also had the opportunity to get involved in other projects in the lab over the course of the summer, the most exciting of which was testing a “smart blanket” system developed by the RAD Lab from the U of T Faculty of Architecture. This project was very exciting for me, since it gave me experience setting up and running device trials and analysing large datasets in Matlab.
I’m tremendously grateful to have been given the opportunity to immerse myself in a research setting, and to meet so many interesting and inspiring people coming from such diverse backgrounds. In particular, the EngSci alumni at the lab were always eager to share their own experiences and offer advice on the options available to those in the program. After a summer spent at IATSL, I’m much more confident about the path I want to take in my university education – it was an overwhelmingly positive experience.