With strong ties to the health system, our infrastructure allows W21C to serve as a beta test-site with access to clinical, non-clinical and simulated environments.


W21C infrastructure includes a state-of-the-art medical teaching unit at the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary (Unit 36 in the Special Services Building), and new W21C Research and Innovation Centre at the Teaching, Research and Wellness (TRW) Building at the Cumming School of Medicine, UCalgary. A Healthcare Human Factors and Simulation Laboratory is also housed in the W21C Research and Innovation Centre. Since May 2004, W21C has served as a beta test-site for exemplary hospital design, approaches to the health care delivery and innovative medical technologies.

W21C complements existing health sector infrastructure by catalyzing multidisciplinary research and innovation activities within two unique nationally and internationally recognized spaces.

The W21C “Living Laboratory”

Unit 36 (Medical Teaching Unit) Foothills Medical Centre, Alberta Health Services

The most familiar physical space associated with W21C is the W21C’s Medical Teaching Unit (36). This space, also referred to as the W21C ‘Living Laboratory’, was specifically designed to provide a research environment that juxtaposes clinical care space with strategically planned equipment and space for research. The W21C’s ‘Living Laboratory’ is nationally and internationally unique, and enables our researchers, healthcare professionals, and students to conduct and catalyze research focused on transformative and innovative health practices, new technologies, and products, right in a patient care setting. The talented team of health professionals who work everyday to take care of patients on Unit 36 is paramount to our success – helping W21C achieve its vision of “defining the future of health care”.

W21C Research and Innovation Centre

Located in the Teaching, Research & Wellness (TRW) Building at the Cumming School of Medicine

Located in the Teaching, Research & Wellness (TRW) Building at the Cumming School of Medicine, the W21C Research and Innovation Centre is a space that provides our team with opportunities to:

  1. Pursue applied health Research & Development partnerships and applications with commercial potential
  2. Develop, test, and promote innovative solutions to the delivery of care.

One of the fundamental objectives of the W21C Research and Innovation Centre is to provide an environment that facilitates interdisciplinary health research and innovation. Laboratory spaces, formal meeting spaces, and informal lounging areas enable researchers, clinical care service providers, faculty, students, visiting scholars and industry partners the opportunity to interact and collaborate.

Key Features

  • A state-of-the-art Healthcare Human Factors and Simulation Laboratory.
  • Meeting and seminar space equipped with video-conferencing capabilities.
  • Common space to promote dialogue among disciplines.
  • Research workstations and office space.
  • Access to the University of Calgary’s secure research database server for data management.

For more information or for a tour of the W21C Research and Innovation Centre, please contact

W21C Healthcare Human Factors and Simulation Laboratory

Located in the W21C Research and Innovation Centre, University of Calgary

The Healthcare Human Factors and Simulation Laboratory (HHFSL) opened in 2009 and is located in the W21C Research and Innovation Centre, University of Calgary.

The HHFSL serves as a test-bed for technologies and processes. The lab provides our team and collaborators access to a simulated clinical environment, so that research and development can occur without impacting actual clinical operations within the health system. The lab also provides portable simulation and observation equipment, enabling our team to take research out of the lab and into the real world.


An adaptable 20 square meter simulation environment realistically simulates a range of clinical and non-clinical environments integrated with 10 square meter control/observation room.

Multiple Human Patient Simulators reliably model adaptive and realistic subject patient interactions within the Lab or in real world environments.

  • CAE Healthcare’s iStan and ECS patient simulators allow for high-fidelity real-time patient simulation with advanced physiological modeling and realistic patient responses to a wide range of medical procedures (e.g., defibrillation, drug administration).
  • Simulators for specific procedures or scenarios can be integrated with the HHFSL on a case by case basis to answer unique research questions.
  • Standardized patients provide researchers with additional flexibility in simulating realistic research scenarios.


  • Eight ceiling mounted PTZ video cameras and four directional compression microphones allow in detailed observation and recording of interactions between person, task and environment.
  • Multiple ASL MobileEye eye tracking systems allow researchers to see interactions between subjects, environment and technology through the subjects’ own eyes, providing insight into cognitive processes beyond subjective participant responses.
  • Noldus Media Recorder and METIVision provide the ability to seamlessly integrate video and audio data collected in the HHFSL including data from novel health care technologies utilized during simulation and patient simulators.


  • The HHFSL’s hardware and software infrastructure allow researchers to integrate comprehensive data portfolios with a number of analytical tools (e.g., Noldus Observer XT v.11.5, SPSS v.20) to perform detailed behavioural and statistical analyses,compare subject performance measures, visualize complex data patterns, and evaluate the usability of health care technologies.
  • Integration with video production software allows researchers to present their results in innovative and accessible ways to a diverse group of audiences.

The fusion of infrastructure, simulation technology, Human Factors expertise, and analysis capabilities provides great potential for provincial, national and international collaboration. The resulting applied science also has tremendous benefits for improving the safety and well-being of patients, caregivers, and healthcare providers.

For more information on the Human Factors Research Program at W21C, please contact Greg Hallihan, Human Factors Program Manager.