Smart homes for the elderly under construction

University Park, Pa. — A "smart" house that can remind the elderly to take medications, track when they turn on the stove and monitor visitors is under development at Blueroof Technologies Inc., a McKeesport-based nonprofit corporation co-founded by Bob Walters, a Penn State Greater Allegheny engineering professor.

A model cottage already has been constructed in Blueroof's McKeesport Independence Zone (McKIZ), a 10-acre site designated for the homes.

"We will have about 15 new smart, accessible, affordable and green homes in McKIZ when it is finished in three years," said Walters. He and John Bertoty, a retired high school principal, started the company to benefit McKeesport's elderly and disabled and create jobs to help keep local high school and college graduates in the region.

Walters has recruited help across Penn State, working with Smart Spaces Center at University Park, a multi-disciplinary program to develop spaces that will enable people to live safely and independently in their own homes as long as possible.

Students at Penn State Greater Allegheny assist with installing wiring, designing prototypes of smart projects to integrate into the houses and gathering input from senior citizens about technology use that can benefit them in their own homes. "We can then provide the technology to bridge the gap between what they want to do and what they can do," said Bertoty.

This article is from the fall issue of Penn State Outreach Magazine. Go to to view the magazine online.


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Last Updated November 18, 2010