Transforming lives with technology

Pioneering technologies of the future, designed to transform the lives of older people and those living with a disability, were showcased in Sheffield last week at the UK’s leading assistive technology research conference.

More than 100 leading health care professionals, academic researchers and businesses gathered at the Technology for Independence (T4I) Conference, hosted by the University of Sheffield, alongside people who will benefit from the futuristic innovations.

The day was filled with more than 20 talks from a wide range of world-leading experts across the assistive technology field. The event gave delegates the opportunity to explore the evolving and innovative ways that assistive technology can enhance independence and enable people to enjoy a better quality of life for longer.

Simon Fielden, Chair of the T4I board, said: "We are now living longer than ever before but we are not necessarily enjoying a good quality of life in our older years.

“With our life expectancy in the UK now over 80 years old and an ageing population, it is more important than ever that we focus on assistive technologies which can provide vital support and allow greater independence, especially for older people and those living with a disability."

Professor Luc de Witte, a specialist in assistive and care technology from Centre for Assistive Technology and Connected Healthcare (CATCH) at the University of Sheffield, discussed ‘How can we bridge the gap between what is technically possible and what is practically available?’.

He highlighted the global problem that 90 per cent of the population do not have access to the Assistive Technology they need. The World Health Organisation GATE initiative estimates approximately one billion people need some form of Assistive Technology worldwide.

Visitors were given a unique glimpse into the future with demonstrations of revolutionary technology including: muscle switches which can detect small electrical signals produced by muscle activity and use these to control assistive technology devices such as communication aids; multi-functional doorbells which help disabled people to identify who is at the door, and online resources which can assist people with cognitive disabilities such as down syndrome or autism.

The University was specially selected to host the prestigious T4I conference due to the success of its pioneering CATCH.

The centre will also organise T4I2017 next year alongside the European mother conference AAATE2017 in September 2017.

CATCH is a multi-disciplinary research centre which brings together more than 70 leading academics from 17 different departments and five faculties to research, develop, evaluate and implement new technologies to help people to live well and age well.

Additional information

To find out more about the AAATE2017 conference please visit:

For more information about CATCH please visit

The University of Sheffield

With almost 27,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.

A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

Sheffield is the only university to feature in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For 2016 and was voted number one university in the UK for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education in 2014. In the last decade it has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.

Sheffield has six Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.


For more information, please contact:

Amy Pullan
Media Relations Officer
University of Sheffield
0114 222 9859