Technology has the potential to improve the quality of live and well-being of older adults. However, this audience still has to face several challenges in order to be included in a increasingly technological society. This fact puts older adults at a disadvantage and it requires researchers and practitioners to deliver products which are suitable for them, this way ensuring that they are not excluded from the benefits that technology can provide.
The stereotype that the older population is still unwilling to use computers is deprecated, and more and more, elders use technology in their daily life. In fact the main reason for a still lower acceptance rate of technology among older adults is the disregarding of their characteristics during the design process. Elders’ characteristics and needs are very different from the mainstream audience and the number of systems that consider these differences is scarce to non-existent. This includes games, which up till some time ago, were still seen as an activity targeted at younger generations only. Nevertheless, games provide a wide range of mechanisms that can be used not only to appeal to the older audience but also to promote their active-ageing and well-being.
The main goal of this project is to analyse, design and evaluate a tablet-based gaming platform for older adults. To achieve this purpose we start by performing a study of users’ characteristics as well as games’ mechanisms and tablets’ potential as privileged devices for older adults’ use. Building upon the obtained results, we propose a solution that incorporates games with mechanisms for cognitive training and social stimulation in order to provide an enjoyable experience while promoting seniors’ well-being and quality-of-life. The development phase of this solution was based on a user-centred methodology in which we iteratively redesigned and evaluated low-fidelity prototypes with older adults at a day care centre. At the end of this project, we were able to perform a trial with seniors, using a tablet device and a high-fidelity prototype of the proposed system. Results showed that the proposed solution satisfies the various aspects of usability as well as its great acceptance by the target audience.
Author: Ana Vasconcelos
Type: MSc thesis
Partner: Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do Porto