William Li and David Hatch

At the Boston Home, where all residents are in wheelchairs, MIT is working on manuevering wheelchairs by voice commands. Resident David Hatch (rt) speaks with MIT grad student William Li who has been working with Hatch on the process. Boston Globe/John Tlumacki /Landov

At The Boston Home technology is used deliberately to increase residents’ independence and quality of life and to improve the quality of care. The building and campus are set up for residents to move independently in their customized power wheelchairs. Over the last several years staff members from The Boston Home have worked with students and faculty from MIT on a number of technology projects that enhance life for our residents, including a robotic wheelchair. Our residents’ and staff members’ participation in these projects also contributes to knowledge and practical solutions for the broader community of people living with severe physical disabilities.

Technology, applied intelligently to maximize mobility, independence and engagement, can remove limitations and barriers to achieving goals and living life more fully.

Because of the level of disability the residents have, it makes technology all the more crucial. Technology can help residents with mobility, mental stimulation, access, and the ability to communicate, which in turn helps combat the social isolation many with progressive illnesses feel.

Input for our technology has come from Therapists, Nursing, Social Workers, Psychologist, Residents, Administration, Board Members, collaborating Academic Institutions and Vendors to promote maximum independence in all areas of a resident’s life. We take into consideration both the internal and external elements of a resident’s life. This promotes comprehensive evaluations for all residents to find methodology to access their wants and needs.

Watch a short film, featuring residents and MIT partners, that shows how The Boston Home is a testbed for technology innovation:

Whizbang Technology Projects at The Boston Home


A team of physicians, scientists, and engineers working together to study the brain and develop neurotechnologies for people with neurologic disease, injury, or limb loss. This became an international news sensation when a Boston Home resident living with paralysis was able to move a robotic arm to bring her a cup of coffee through thought, by controlling a chip in her brain.

Robotic Wheelchair at MIT

The Boston Home was a test site for MIT’s Robotic Wheelchair project.

  • See it in action in this video
  • MIT article – “MIT researchers are developing a new kind of autonomous wheelchair that can learn all about the locations in a given building, and then take its occupant to a given place in response to a verbal command”

The Boston Home Test Site for Chilean Tech Program

iPad User Group

The Boston Home has an iPad user group for residents. As with other communication devices, the iPads are mounted to wheelchairs in our Wheelchair Enhancement Center and customized for each user with apps and accessibility set up specific to their needs. The equipment is regularly adjusted and tweaked to ensure ongoing effectiveness.

The Wheelchair Enhancement Center

Launched in 2012, The Wheelchair Enhancement Center makes the resources and knowledge of The Boston Home available to the public.

Durable Medical Equipment Reuse Council

As part of its Disability Inclusion Initiative, The Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation has granted The Boston Home $25,000 to launch an innovative collaborative project that will support better access to gently-used durable medical equipment (DME) in Greater Boston. Manual and power wheelchairs (and other devices) that are no longer used by families or individuals are donated, sanitized, refurbished, and redistributed to individuals without the need for daunting approval processes and other bureaucratic hoops. This will help more individuals with disabilities obtain fast access to needed equipment at low or no cost. The first collaboration of its kind in Massachusetts, Greater Boston DME Reuse Council project will be a collaboration among more than 20 key organizations serving children, adults, and seniors with disabilities and will address a serious gap in services identified by the Council members. Learn more here.

Support our technology programs by attending our Robots & Power Chairs Fundraiser on Tuesday, October 29, 2013.