Great Problems, Great Minds Seminar Series: Assessing Older Adult Mobility Using Wearable Technology



The Department of Social Sciences presents a Great Problems, Great Minds seminar series event featuring guest speaker Bruce Newbold, a professor in the School of Earth, Environment, and Society and associate dean of the Faculty of Science at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, who will give a presentation on “Assessing Older Adult Mobility Using Wearable Technology.” This event will take place on Friday, September 29, from 3:15–4:30 p.m. over Zoom.


Mobility is a key determinant of independent functioning and successful aging and has been described by some as a ‘sixth vital sign.’ Mobility limitations increase with age and are often one of the first noticeable signs of age-related decline and consistently predict important health outcomes such as disability, hospitalization, and mortality. Given aging populations, it is critical to identify those that are not yet disabled, but at a high risk for mobility decline. As part of a larger research program that is focused on identifying and understanding early changes in older peoples’ mobility, this talk is to describe the validation of personal mobility monitoring technology against known ‘gold standards’ and identifying relevant measures that will capture an individual’s so-called ‘free-living mobility’ or mobility within the home and community as one goes about their daily life.


Bruce Newbold received his Ph.D. degree and bachelor’s degree in geography from McMaster University. He has held guest scholar positions at the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies, University of California, San Diego (2004), and the Medical Research Council’s Social and Public Health Sciences at the University of Glasgow (2008), a position which included a fellowship through the Department of Urban Studies, University of Glasgow. He worked at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign between 1994 and 2000 before returning to McMaster University in 2000. Trained as a population geographer, his research interests include health, immigration, aging, and mobility and transportation. He has published scholarly articles on these research areas in top journals, such as Social Science & Medicine, Epidemiology, and Journal of Transport Geography. His work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and Social Sciences Research Council.

This event is part of the Department of Social Sciences’ Great Problems, Great Minds seminar series which explores the major problems facing humanity as we move into the heart of the twenty-first century. To see the full schedule and videos from previous events, visit the seminar series page. For more information, contact Associate Professor of Social Sciences Hao Huang at

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