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Amy Hwang

Photo of Amy HwangPhD Candidate

Rehabilitation Sciences Institute (University of Toronto)
(416) 946-8573




Amy Hwang holds a Bachelor of Computing in Cognitive Science and an International Studies Certificate from Queen’s University (Canada). After her undergraduate studies and three years in the telecommunications industry, she joined Toronto Rehab (University Health Network). Since 2009, she has held a Project Leader at the Cardiovascular Prevention & Rehabilitation Program.  In 2010, she enrolled in concurrent graduate studies at the University of Toronto’s Rehabilitation Sciences Institute, initially in the M.Sc. program and then accelerated into the Ph.D. program in 2012.  Throughout her studies, she has conducted research at IATSL and in collaboration with the Computational Health Informatics Lab (CHIL) at the University of Waterloo, led by Dr. Jesse Hoey. Amy’s doctoral research has been investigating the social complexities of persons and family care partners living with cognitive impairments, and design implications for "gerontechnologies" that aim to support them. In her first co-design study, she collaborated with informal care partners to explore how they envisioned supporting persons with dementia (PwDs) with support from AAL technologies. This study led to the ongoing D.I.Y. (“do-it-yourself”) Smart Home project collaboration. In her second study, Amy used an interpretive paradigm and half-day focus group workshops to better understand the experiences and care practices of adult children caring for parents with dementia. In her third field of study of a community-based program, she is studying multiple persons/families with mild cognitive deficits (i.e., mild cognitive impairment or early Alzheimer's disease) at various stages of appropriating a commercial tablet technology.

In support of this research, Amy was awarded a 2013/14 travel fellowship, affording her the opportunity to spend one year of her doctoral studies at the Division of Occupational Therapy at Karolinska Institutet (Stockholm, Sweden).  During this time, she collaborated with the Cognitive Accessibility and Technology Use when ageing in home and Society (CACTUS) research group, led by Prof. Louise Nygård. Continuing from this collaboration, Amy is currently leading user/experience-centred design efforts towards Ambient Assistive Living Technologies for Wellness, Engagement, and Long Life (AAL-WELL), a transdisciplinary project between Canada, Sweden, and UK. To this end, she has partnered with the Gerontology Research Centre at Simon Fraser University, a Vancouver-based start-up company, and Vancouver neighbourhood house on a field study of commercial and community services supporting persons with mild cognitive impairment and early Alzheimer's and their families. She also collaborated with the People and Computing Lab (ZPAC) at University of Zurich (Switzerland) to organize a workshop, entitled Smart for Life: Designing Smart Home Technologies that Evolve with Users, at CHI 2015 (April 18-23 in Seoul, Korea). 

Amy is scheduled to defend her Ph.D. at the University of Toronto in Fall 2016.


  1. Hwang, A.S., Troung, K.N., & Mihailidis, A. (2016). Expanding design possibilities for life with dementia. ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) Interactions, 23(3), 59-61.
  2. Hwang, A., Truong, K.N., Cameron, J.I., Lindqvist, E., Nygård, L., & Mihailidis, A. (2015). Co-designing ambient assisted living environments: unravelling the situated context of informal dementia care. BioMed Research International: Special Issue on New Technologies for the Rehabilitation of Chronic Diseases.
  3. How, T.V., Hwang, A.S., Green, R.E., & Mihailidis, A. (2015). Envisioning future cognitive telerehabilitation technologies: a co-design process with clinicians. Disability & Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology.
  4. Gomersall, T., Astell, A.J., Nygård, L., Sixsmith, A., Mihailidis, A., & Hwang, A.S. (2015). Living with ambiguity: a metasythesis of qualitative research on mild cognitive impairment. The Gerontologist, 55(5): 892-912.
  5. Jackson, P., Hwang, A.S., Mihailidis, A., & Sixsmith, A.(2015). Using co-creation workshops to explore present and future experiences of everyday activities with older persons with cognitive impairment [poster]. 44th Annual Scientific and Educational Meeting, Canadian Association on Gerontology, October 23-25, 2015 at Calgary, AB, Canada.
  6. Hwang, A., Rosenberg, L., Kontos, P., Mihailidis, A., & Nygård, L. (2014). Beyond the discourse of ‘burden’: exploring the experiences of adult children who care for parents with dementia living at home [conference oral presentation]. Life with Dementia: Relations, 2nd International Conference at the Centre for Dementia Research, Linköping University, Norrköping, Sweden, October 15-17, 2014.
  7. Hwang, A., Truong, K.N., Cameron, J.I., & Mihailidis, A. (2014). Designing to support caregiving in ambient assisted living environments [conference oral presentation]. Technology and Dementia Pre-conference Workshop at Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC 2014) at Copenhagen, Denmark, July 12-17, 2014.
  8. Hwang, A. and Hoey, J. (2013). DIY Smart Home: Narrowing the gap between users and technology [extended abstract].  Interactive Machine Learning Workshop, International Conference Intelligent User Interfaces, March 19, 2013 at Santa Monica, California, USA.
  9. Hwang, A. and Hoey, J. (2012). Smart home, the next generation: closing the gap between users and technology [full paper]. AAAI Technical Report FS-12-01, AI for Gerontechnology, 2012 AAAI Fall Symposium, November 2-4, 2012 at Arlington, Virginia, USA.
  10. Hwang A., Truong K., & Mihailidis A. (2012). Determining the needs of informal caregivers for smart home user interfaces: a first look. 2012 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC 2012), July 14-19, 2012 at Vancouver, Canada.
  11. Hwang, A., Truong, K., & Mihailidis, A. (2012). Using participatory design to determine the needs of informal caregivers for smart home user interfaces [full paper]. 2012 6th International Conference on Pervasive Computing Technologies for Healthcare (pp. 41-48), May 21-24, 2012 at San Diego, California, USA.
  12. Jackson, P., Hwang, A., Astell, A., Mihailidis, A., Nygård, L., & Sixsmith, A. (2016, accepted) AAL-WELL that Ends Well: International Transdisciplinary Research into Ambient Assistive Living Technology for Older Adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment. Gerontechnology, 15(suppl). 10th World Conference of Gerontechnology, September 28-30, 2016 at Nice, France.
  13. Hwang, A.*, Jackson, P.*, Truong, K.N., Sixsmith, A., Nygård, L., Astell, A., & Mihailidis, A. (2016, accepted). Appropriating in-market communication technologies for persons and families living with mild cognitive deficits: a field study of a neighbourhood house program. 45th Annual Scientific and Educational Meeting, Canadian Association on Gerontology, October 20-22, 2015 at Montreal, QC, Canada.