The aging of the population has become a reality in developed countries. The percentage of older adults in the overall population has been increasing for quite some time and is bound to keep growing. The increase of this population segment opens up opportunities to be explored in areas such as gaming since this is one of their preferred activities.
Age related changes are responsible for modifications in the perception and cognitive systems. However, when properly stimulated, changes can be slowed down or even reversed.
Digital games can have an active role in stimulating the older adults’ cognitive function. However, technology is still far from the older adults because age-related changes are not usually considered when designing or because they do not fit the needs of elders.
Touch-based user interfaces have been argued to reduce the obstacles posed by technology to older adults, due to their direct mapping of the input in the User Interface. However, that still remains to be assessed.
This project aimed to create a tablet gaming platform that supports cognitive games. Besides common features such as: user management, this platform provides the tools to store information about the cognitive performance of the player, which can then be used by healthcare professionals to monitor the cognitive state.
Moreover, two prototypes of games have been created to assess the capabilities of the platform and understand how cognitive games can be used in the tablet. Due to its openness, Android Honeycomb was used in the development.
The platform and one of the games were evaluated with end users in a final usability test. The results have shown that, in general, users can use this platform successfully; still, obstacles related with the android OS itself, were found.
Author: João Caseiro
Type: MSc thesis
Partner: Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do Porto