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    Research Activities underway at the McKechnie Family LIFE Home

    With the start of the spring 2021 academic semester, the McKechnie Family LIFE Home is now playing host to research and development activities for the first time!    Members of a robotics research team (pictured here) have been working with the LIFE Home's resident "cobot" named Stretch by Hello Robot.  The team aims to identify the capabilities and limitations of this cobot and is working on the development of new tools and end affectors to make Stretch as useful as possible.   More research activities are being planned as researchers begin to be awarded grants with The McKechnie Family LIFE Home as the intended research space.  



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    McKechnie Family LIFE Home Received Accessibility Evaluation

    The McKechnie Family LIFE Home team hosted staff members from the Disability Resources & Educational Services (DRES) last week on a tour to assess the facility for universal accessibility.  The DRES staff reviewed the entire space through their experienced lens of evaluation.  We discussed use cases to ensure that the McKechnie Family LIFE Home can accommodate visits and activities by a range of individuals.    Thank you to the DRES team staff members for helping us to make our facility better! 





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    McKechnie Family LIFE Home Team Presents to CABA

    Wendy Rogers, Harshal Mahajan, and Brian Pastor presented to the Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA) Connected Homes Council regarding the recently completed research facility.  Members of this council represent leads of industry from across Canada and the United States and offered a unique insight into innovate uses for the space around smart technologies, internet of things (IoT) and climate control.     


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    McKechnie Family LIFE Home Kitchen Fully-Equipped

    The McKechnie Family LIFE Home now is home to a top-of-the-line suite of smart Samsung appliances that add to our home simulation space.  These appliances are all a part of the smart technology package that will allow for a greater understanding of topics related to the Internet of Things (IoT) and will provide a more well-rounded and functional home simulation space.  


  • 2020 in Review - McKechnie Family LIFE Home

    2020 was a year of tremendous growth for the McKechnie Family LIFE Home and included some exciting milestones for the research facility and the researchers who inhabit it.   The LIFE Home team took some time to reflect on our year and below are some highlights: 

    January 2020 - JohnCo Construction completes finishing touches on the LIFE Home 

    February 2020 - Director, Wendy Rogers, makes first media appearance promoting the McKechnie Family LIFE Home 

    May 2020 - LIFE Home team meets for the first time post-shelter-at-home order to continue planning, moving forward the progress to facility operational status.  

    June 2020 - Stocks Furniture delivers all furnishings for the McKechnie Family LIFE Home. 

    July 2020 - Camera and AV system installation begins!

    August 2020 - First Robot takes up residence in LIFE Home/LIFE Home hosts the inaugural class of the Master of Science in Health Technology

    October 2020 - LIFE Home smart appliances begin to be installed 

    December 2020 - Website officially Launches 


    As we move into 2021, we are so excited to continue this progress and begin to host our first research activities in this cutting-edge space.   Be sure to keep up with our blog to continue to follow our journey! 


  • LIFE Home Website Launches!

    After much work by the LIFE Home Team, the College of Applied Health Sciences Communications Department, and our web design partner Water High Creative, we're proud to introduce a new standalone page for the McKechnie Family LIFE Home.   On this new site, there is information about our team, information on the facility, and resources for use the LIFE Home.  

    Check it out for yourself here


  • Master of Science in Health Technology Students Work in LIFE Home

    The inaugural Master of Science in Health Technology class has been working on their course work and designing prototypes of health technologies using the McKechnie Family LIFE Home facilities.  These students have put the Health Technology Innovation lab to use working together to mock up prototypes of different health technologies that could innovate health management and care in the future.   The LIFE Home facilities have allowed these students to work on these projects in-person and collaboratively while maintaining the required safety protocols with thoughtful management of work areas and through the use of the university-wide COVID-19 testing requirements. 



  • Smart Home Technologies and Appliances - Making the McKechnie Family LIFE Home into the Home of the Future

    The McKechnie Family LIFE Home is a cutting-edge research facility, which in large part is due to the smart home technologies that have been selected to populate the spaces.  When approaching the smart home technologies to place in the different rooms, the team made an effort to not be brand/OS specific so that researchers can assess a variety of technologies and how they interact with one another to allow for more successful living.   Below is a list of the smart technologies that are currently in the home.  

    -Samsung - Family Hub 4-Door French Door Smart Refrigerator 

    -Samsung - Linear Wash 24" Top Control Built-In Smart Dishwasher

    -LG -  French InstaView Door-in-Door Smart Refrigerator with Ice Maker 

    -Amazon Smart Oven, a Certified for Humans device 

    -GE® Smart Countertop Microwave Oven with Scan-To-Cook Technology

    -Atomi Smart WiFi Coffee Maker Compatible with Alexa & Google Home, iOS and Android

    -Hamilton Beach Programmable Coffee Maker 


    Additionally, the team is in the process of selecting and purchasing digital home assistants, smart home sensors, and other smart home technologies that will round out the smart technology suite offered to researchers and research participants in the home.  

    "“LIFE home

  • McKechnie Family LIFE Home Partnership with Stocks Furniture

    The LIFE Home team, in partnership with Stocks Furniture, have outfitted the McKechnie Family LIFE Home with modern and functional furnishings.  In a recent visit (pictured here), the LIFE Home team met with Terry Martin from Stocks, who has been a key player in the planning, ordering, and delivery of our furniture, to address final touches to our furniture package.   This partnership has been tremendously beneficial, and we can’t think Terry enough!


  • Inaugural Master of Science in Health Technology Class Begins in McKechnie Family LIFE Home

    The newly-launched Master of Science in Health Technology program, a part of the Health Technology Education Program, held its inaugural event in the McKechnie Family LIFE Home on Friday, August 21st.  This event consisted of students and faculty, both in-person and virtual, launching the program and making introductions.   

    The Master of Science in Health Technology students will be completely in-person this semester thanks to appropriate social distancing and sanitation practices within the McKechnie Family LIFE Home.  It's incredibly thrilling to see the space beginning to be occupied and used to better the lives of the students in this program.  Onward and Upward from here!

    new classroom in LIFE Home building

  • McKechnie Family LIFE Home Welcomes First Full-Time Resident - Stretch by Hello Robot!

    The McKechnie Family LIFE Home is thrilled to announce that we have received our first robot to be used in research and development tasks around the home.  Stretch is a novel research robot that was developed by Hello Robot.   Stretch will Interact with people using a low mass, contact-sensitive body, work in clutter with a compact footprint and a slender manipulator, remain mobile, only weighing 51 lbs, and assist in vital research and development activities around the LIFE Home.  

    Pictured below is the unboxing day for the Stretch robot where members of the McKechnie Family LIFE Home team as well as those working on human-robot interaction research were learning more about the functionality of Stretch and taking it through some trial activities.  

    For more information on this exciting robot, please visit their website at




  • Camera and AV Installation Begins!

    The AV team has been hard at work in the McKechnie Family LIFE home finalizing locations for the cameras/mics and has begun installing in some locations.  The McKechnie Family LIFE Home will be equipped with cutting-edge cameras and microphones allowing for researchers to never miss a moment of their research participants' experience within the facility.  


  • Furniture Installation (Almost) Complete!

    As of Monday, July 6th, the McKechnie Family LIFE home is now almost completely furnished!   This is a particularly exciting milestone as the LIFE Home team has been working with our partners at Stocks Furniture for over a year on the careful selection of the furniture to be accessible, modern, and within the LIFE Home aesthetic.   

    Soon, we will have photos of the interior to show but in the meantime, a hint.   Our aesthetic is very "Loyal To You, Illinois" with features of Orange, Blue, and White.  

    Next Steps -- Outdoor furnishings and installation of the AV systems within the facility!



  • LIFE Home Furnishings Delivered

    The McKechnie Family LIFE Home is now (mostly) furnished!   The team converged on two dates to receive shipments of the bulk of the furniture and worked with our partners at Stocks Furniture to accommodate the delivery and installation.   The renderings of the LIFE Home are now coming to LIFE and the facility is nearing total completion.   The LIFE Home team is thrilled to forge on through this summer and prepare for the fall academic semester to hopefully begin providing service. 



  • LIFE Home Planning Continues Despite Shelter-at-Home Order

    Though the LIFE Home Team has been meeting almost exclusively virtually, planning has not stopped for the cutting edge McKechnie Family LIFE Home research facility.  This time away from the office has allowed for the team to finalize operational details that will provide a superior customer experience for researchers using the space.  

    The team did have the opportunity to enter the facility for some required measurements and to complete some in-person discussions.   Of course, everyone was distanced and wearing appropriate personal protective equipment to ensure safety! 




  • McKechnie Family LIFE Home Team Plans Dedication Ceremony

    The McKechnie Family LIFE home team is working diligently planning the dedication ceremony which will officially signify the opening of the research facility.  This event will provide invited guests an opportunity to tour the facility as well as meet with students and researchers demonstrating some research examples that could take place in the different spaces.   


  • LIFE Home Featured in Radio Story

    LIFE Home Director, Wendy Rogers, was given the opportunity to sit down with News Gazette reporter Tim Ditman and discuss the LIFE Home project as well as future plans for the use of the facility.    Please find the link below:

    News Gazette - New UI Research Facility Aims to Craft Next Smart Home

  • LIFE Home Team Making Plans to Begin Open Houses

    As the LIFE Home is now virtually complete, the team is now in the process of beginning to plan for the use of the space.   One element of this will be opening the space to potential collaborators so that they are able to see what the space can be used for.   During these visits, the attendees will be able to walk through the space with a member of the LIFE Home team and be told about the various capabilities that this cutting edge research facility will offer. 


  • Finishing Touches Almost Complete in LIFE Home

    As we enter into February 2020, the LIFE home team is meeting more frequently to prepare for the furniture and AV installations within the research space.   The construction crews are moving things out and the team is now able to see what the finished space will look like when we are handed access to the LIFE home.  

    In these pictures, you will see that the space is primed and ready for some modern furniture and top of the line AV outfits.  




  • Construction Nears Completion in LIFE Home

    As we approach the end of the first month of 2020, we see the construction crew is beginning to clean things up and pack up their equipment to take with them.    Soon, the LIFE Home team will be given access to the facility as construction is nearly complete!   


    Everyone involved is excited to hit the ground running and can't wait to begin working with researchers and collaborators in this cutting-edge research space.  




  • Happy New Year from the Nearly Complete LIFE Home

    As we enter into 2020, we're so excited about the rapidly approaching handoff of the LIFE Home facility from the construction team to the research team!  The LIFE Home exterior is officially complete and there are only finishing touches remaining on the interior.  

    The LIFE Home team has been hard at work selecting the Audio/Visual systems and the furniture to make the LIFE Home maximally operational.  Very soon we will be able to set up residence in the LIFE Home and begin using this fantastic facility to promote research efforts at the University of Illinois and beyond.




  • Flooring, Lighting, Cabinets, Oh My!

    The LIFE Home has seen a boom in noticeable changes, especially in the interior, with the flooring, the cabinets, the island in the kitchen, and the lighting being installed and functional.  As you can see in the photos, the modern aesthetic is beginning to be quite noticeable and the space is now ready to begin the furniture outfit. 

    The LIFE home team walked through the facility yesterday to plan out what the furniture plan will be.  Decisions on these items are being made soon so that we can have an outfitted LIFE Home by the time we are handed the keys!



  • Final LIFE Home Facade Installation Begins!

    The time has finally come for the final LIFE Home Facade installation to begin!  The dark grey textured panels are being installed on the top of the pink weather wrapping and the team's vision is finally coming to LIFE! Soon the entire exterior will be complete, leaving only the interior finishings left before the facility is handed over to the LIFE Home team! 


  • LIFE Home Interior Gets a Fresh Paint Job

    The LIFE Home is now starting to look quite nice on the inside thanks to a fresh coat of paint and some cleanup.  The larger projects that required machinery are now being finished up so there is a lot more floor space to wander around in.   

    The LIFE Home team met at the space to begin thinking more about the AV and furniture needs of the space as this is the time to make those decisions.   More changes coming soon!


  • LIFE Home Prepared for Siding and Garage Door Color

    The LIFE Home is now prepped for the final siding and facade to be installed.  Soon the face of the LIFE home will match the renderings that we have been relying on to date.   With the final facade being installed soon, the LIFE Home team is able to focus on the more aesthetic elements.   A part of this was selecting the color of the garage door* as this is one of the first elements that those who visit the space will see when pulling into the parking lot. 


    *Photos of updated garage door coming soon!


  • Knock Knock! LIFE Home has doors and windows!

    The LIFE Home now has a front door and windows in the research space, inching ever-closer to the completion of this cutting-ede research facility.  Participants will use this front door in order to complete the simulation of a real-home environment.   As you can see in the photo, the door and windows match those that would be found in a typical home dwelling of today.  


  • LIFE Home Team Plans Furniture and Preps for Window Installation

    As the LIFE Home construction progresses, it's now time for the team to begin making final selections for furniture and decor within the space.  The team has been meeting and discussing the use of each different space in an effort to maximize accessibility and flow within the LIFE Home.  

    Additionally, on the outside there is preparations in place to begin installing windows.  This will make the space completely enclosed just in time for the cold and wintery weather!




  • LIFE Home Team Tours Interior Again

    The LIFE Home team was able to get inside the rapidly-developing LIFE Home once again to begin to think about final construction needs and begin to plan for the completed LIFE Home.  In this trip, the team noted furniture needs and began to think of the flow of the space from both a research participant perspective as well as a researcher/community member perspective.    

    With the walls up, the electrical installed and functional, and the space beginning to take shape, it is only a matter of time until the space is complete from a construction standpoint and the furniture is begins to be installed!




  • LIFE Home Exterior Blooms!

    With the completion date growing closer and closer, the changes to both the interior and exterior of the LIFE Home are more and more noticible!   This week, the exterior experienced a bit of make over with the planting of the landscaping as well as the continued installation of the brick final facade.  

    The landscaping already makes the LIFE Home more inviting and will look fantastic next spring when the grass is fully established. 



    “landscape1” “landscape1”

  • LIFE Home Gets First Section of Final Facade

    Another exciting update on this dreary day in Central Illinois as the LIFE Home now has the bottom section of the final outer facade almost completely installed.  As you can see in the photos, there is a band of light tan brick that has now been installed which will consitue half of the final product.  

    With the LIFE Home team taking another tour of the interior in just over a week and a half, we will soon have more interior photos to share!


    Exterior Brick1

  • First Look! LIFE Home Team Takes Tour of Facility

    Yesterday the LIFE Home team was able to enter into the LIFE home and see the progress that has been made as well as get a feel for the space that has been exclusively conceptual to this point!  The intent of the visit was to begin the planning of furnishings as well as use of space within the facility.   

    Pictured is the exterior of the LIFE home from both the Front Door (research space) and the Back Door (meeting and educational space) as well as the soon to be kitchen and living space in the research space.  


  • Changes to the Exterior of the LIFE Home Continue to Demonstrate Progress

    Exciting things happening at 75 Bailey Drive as the exterior is now being prepped for installation of the final decorative facade.  As you can see in the photos, the base layer which will be used to mount the facade has now been applied meaning that next steps will make the LIFE home look more like the renderings that we've relied on up until this point.  

    Grey exterior 1

  • LIFE Home Progress Paves the Way to Success

    Progress is booming on the LIFE Home as construction on both the interior and exterior forges on.  On the outside, we see that there is now the full parking lot as well as sidewalks around the entirety of the structor.   On the inside, we see that the walls are now completely framed and the insulation is beginning to be installed. 

    It's so exciting to see the progress from week to week on our soon to be completed LIFE Home!

    LIFE Home Sidewalk LIFE Home Parking Lot

  • architect's rendering of 1-story LIFE Home building

    Green with Envy -- LIFE Home Progress Continues

    As most of the progress has moved indoors, we still see that some work is being done on the exterior of the LIFE Home.   As you can see from the photos, the waterproofing wrap has been installed paving the way for the final facade to be placed over this in the coming weeks.   

    As always, the LIFE Home construction schedule is ON TIME meaning that we can celebrate the coming of 2020 with a new state-of-the-art research and meeting space. 

    3 men beginning to put a shingles on the roof of the LIFE home

  • LIFE Home Progress Moves Indoors

    As the Illinois weather continues to participate, the progress on the LIFE home is now moving indoors as all of the exterior wall structures have been successfully installed.   Now the work will be mostly on the completing the exterior facade as well as beginning to outfit the interior of the home to fit the needs to of the LIFE home research staff.  

    In the near future, the parking lot will be poured outside and the brick facade will be completed providing a much better picture of what this structure will look like as a finished product. 

    metal studs and steel i-beams of interior of Life Home

    metal studs and steel i-beams of interior of Life Home

    metal studs and steel i-beams of interior of Life Home

    metal studs and steel i-beams of interior of Life Home

    green exterior of walls of building

  • LIFE Home Fully Enclosed!

    Progress on the LIFE Home forges ahead at an impressive rate as the structure is now completely enclosed.   As you can see in the images, the walls and the roof base boards have been installed and the actual shape of the LIFE Home is now visible.  

    It’s exciting to see such progress on this multi-purpose space and we will keep you updated with further work on the LIFE Home!

    Walls put in place on house under construction

    LIFE Home with walls in place

  • architect's rendering of 1-story LIFE Home building

    LIFE Home Progress Peaking to New Heights

    The upward trend in the progress continues as we see the eaves being framed out, demonstrating what will be the final shape of the soon-to-be LIFE Home.   With the completion of this structural element,  the construction will soon be focusing on the closure of the walls as well as the installation of the roof meaning that before long the work will move indoors!

    Walls put in place on house under construction

    Walls put in place on house under construction

    Walls put in place on house under construction

    Walls put in place on house under construction

  • LIFE Home Frame Turning to Walls

    As LIFE Home construction furthers, we are now seeing that the structural frame that has been built is being covered with the materials that will soon become walls.   As this process continues, we will have to begin to wait until this step is complete to go inside and see the actual size and shape of the rooms, including the full-sized home research space.   

    The construction team is working hard and remains ON TIME for the completion of the project by the end of the year!

    bare metal studs of building under construction

    bare metal studs of building under construction

  • LIFE Home Begins to Take Shape!

    With the break in rainy weather in Central Illinois, the LIFE Home is now beginning to take shape as the work goes vertical.   The foundation has now been poured and had time to cure and now the work is on getting the vertical structure set.   With the addition of the steel wall structure beams, it's now beginning to look more like the structure that will become the LIFE Home.   

    Before we know it, there will be a roof struture and the true shape of the LIFE Home will be visible.

    metal stud framework of walls in place for new building

  • artist sketch of Life Home

    Foundation Work Continues on LIFE Home

    With a break in rainy weather, the construcion on the LIFE Home forges on!   The most recent construction updates include the setting of base material for the foundation as well as rebar to pour the foundation pad.   Driving by the site, you will often see tall cranes moving materials in preparation for the soon-to-be pad to be poured.  

    With the foundation work nearing completion, it's only a matter of time until the walls begin to be framed out and the LIFE Home will begin to really take shape. 

    foundation slab with rebarfoundation slab with drain pipesbig pile of gravel

  • LIFE Home Construction Continues Despite Rainy Weather

    Come wind and rain, construction on the LIFE Home pushes on with the pouring of the footings as well as other preparatory work for the foundation.  The site is a-buzz with activity and the sheer size of the soon-to-be LIFE home is striking!   You have to admire these workers as central Illinois has been experiencing historic rain fall but they make progress nonetheless!  Bravo!

    construction worker laying conduit pipesign for Johnco constructionlarge white hoses at construction sitepipes being laid under concrete tunnel3 large stand pipes

  • front view of single-story house

    Construction Begins on LIFE Home! Expected to be Operational by New Year

    The construction fences are up and the foundation has been dug!  Construction on the LIFE began in early May with the foundational work being completed just this week.  It is expected that the foundation will be poured next week, weather permitting.   With all of the planning and preparation that has gone into this endeavor, it’s so exciting to finally be able to see the floorplan of the new LIFE Home in the correct size!


    Please look out for a live feed video that will be posted in the near future.  You can follow along with the progress of the LIFE Home construction anytime you like!

    construction equipment digging a building foundation construction equipment digging a building foundation