Posts Tagged ‘elderly people’

GUI final concept: Improving the elderly home experience

December 2, 2008

On completion of our user testing with the elderly people last week, our group decided to focus on our idea that helped aid ‘communication with the family’ We came away with from the elderly home with 3 very strong insights that really supported one of our idea’s we had tested:

“A device that allows the friends and family of the elderly to contact them easily through SMS messages and email. The elderly receives the ‘mail’ every morning from a device that displays their mail in the familiar context of receiving a letter. This will hopefully create less isolation from the family and make the elderly feel more involved in their lives. It allows friends and family to use quick methods of communication that they are used to using without imposing it on the elderly person”

The three insights that supported this idea were:

1. “receiving a letter is a wonderful experience” This quote came from a lady who loved receiving letters from her family. She said she checked her mail everyday and when she received a letter is was the most wonderful feeling for her. However she mainly only received letters from family who lived further away and were requesting her to come and visit them.

2. “Family are the center of the elderly people’s lives” The people within the elderly people like meeting new people and socially interacting within the home, but their real joy comes from their family. They look forward to seeing them for visits, talking to them on the phone, or receiving a letter for them. Their family are hugely important in their lives and day to day motivations.

3.“informal email service” Currently in one of the elderly homes their is an informal email service, where family and friends of the elderly can email the staff messages and photos and they will print them out and give them to the elderly people.

As a group we felt that it was a great shame that the elderly do not benefit from the form the internet and email like we do. So our core aim and value we wanted to create for the elderly was

“how do you bring the joy of receiving a letter back into an email”

and our result………..



A touch screen device that allows elderly people to receive emails and SMS messages from family in a familiar context. We have strongly used the mental model of receiving, reading and writing letters throughout our concept. The home screen for the device is a writing table where letters will accumulate when you receive mail. The visuals and sizes of the mail illustrates the content. For example:

A letter on the desktop is a normal email.
A package on the desktop would be an email with a photo attachment
A note on the desktop would be a SMS message

We also added an address book as the entry point to writing new messages, and a storage box function where you can store old ‘letters’ Throughout the design we tried to keep the language and symbols very familiar to the elderly, using strong metaphors and mental models that we felt they could easily understand and relate to.

The presentation below is from our final critique, but also shows each interface of the device as well, which will hopefully make the concept a little clearer! A will post up our concept video too in a separate post…

Final Presentation with Interface designs


your granny’s mail


the email you sent your granny


options screen


user scenario (beautifully drawn by sid)


Finding a need

November 15, 2008

After we had returned from our visits to the nursing homes, our next task was to collate all our insights, stories, quotes and photo’s to find areas that we felt needed to be addressed.




before we organized!

Because we had so much information and data is was a large task so we came up with four focus areas that we thought there was a need to look into. These were:

Integration of technology in the lives of the elderly

Communication tools

Personal Identity and social Interaction

Sense of ‘Home’ vs. ‘Institution’ and space for social activity

With these four areas in place we mapped all our insights into one of these headings and started to look for specific needs. We created a ‘need statement’ for every section and with every ‘need statement’ we backed it up with photo’s, stories we had heard and quotes. We also identified our Ultimate goals, opportunities, problems and further area’s of focus.


Our four need statements we developed were:

“Common spaces need to express the same feeling of “home” as the private spaces do”

“Genuine friendships between residents based on shared interests, experiences and personalities”

“Better tools to facilitate communication with friends, family and life in the outside world”

“Need for digital devices designed for aiding the elderly in a variety of daily tasks and activities

These statements were all developed around the topics above that i discussed (problems, opportunities etc.) but for this post i will just talk about one need in more detail:

Focus Area: Communication

Need Statement:“Better tools to facilitate communication with friends, family and life in the outside world”

Relating Needs: More autonomy to communicate, Computers/communication devises that doesn’t look like computers, Education about email, mobile, phone (or can we design devices that are very easy/intuitive to use) Better access to news and current affairs.


User Evidence:

”I am content about everything. My only worry is why my granddaughter doesn’t contact me”

”I have a son in Atlanta but I have to save money to call him”

”My only daughter lives in London and I never see her but I talk to her on the phone on Saturdays”

Ultimate Goals: Feel less isolated, Included in family lives and society as a whole, Become more comfortable with technology in general.

Opportunities: Video calls – being able to connect voice to face e.g. see grandchildren grow, Share/receive photo´s to get an insight of their daily lives, Pre-setup skype device for the elderly, Communicate with other residents who have speech/expressive problems, No interrupted communication between the elderly and the family, Use physical/ambient devices to show how people are feeling in other countries/cities/homes.

Problems: Families neglect elderly, They don’t have access to the internet, They are limited by physical constraints, Phone calls are too expensive, Staff has no time to teach new things.

Where do we go from here?

The following are more specific focus areas that will be looked into for more research and development

Space and Communal areas: Analyzing trends of use and activity in different spaces to help staff optimize their use

Social: A formal process for facilitating the creation of new social clubs based on the skills and interests of the residents

Communication: Easy to use communication tools incorporating what people use on the outside world, such as a networked objects

Use of Technology: Using technologies to create joyful and satisfying alone time e.g. Personalized memory games

Next we will be taking our insights on to our Graphical User Interface investigation to develop and prototype ideas!