A new pilot study led by researchers at Fraunhofer Portugal AICOS has just began, in Porto.
GoLivePhone is a mobile app that acts as a real companion for older people. GoliveClip is a wearable that captures body movements and communicates with the GoLivePhone app. After several lab tests conducted at Fraunhofer AICOS, researchers want to get real world data about the use of these technologies. This study will enable researchers to understand the role of technology in assisting older people in their daily routines, for example, in terms of maintaining social relationship and helping them monitoring their physical activity.
The first group of participants from the user network COLABORAR initiated the study, by answearing questionnaires and performing some motor-physical tests. Then, they will participate in a workshop to get acquainted with the app and the wearable that then they will get home.
The study will run during a year and will bring important information about the use of technology by older people in the real world.
At Fraunhofer AICOS, many projects require validation and usability tests with real end-users, which must follow procedures related to organizational, ethical and legal issues in research involving human participants.
COLABORAR and the Fraunhofer AICOS’s Legal Department created a checklist to guide researchers and students. This checklist comprises ethics and legal procedures that must be followed, as well as aspects related to the organization of research activities involving users. This guide was based in good practices from the previous experience of COLABORAR of 7 years with tests with users. It aims to help Fraunhofer AICOS‘ researchers in conducting studies with participants, as it establishes standards of behaviour and standardizes procedures. Additionally, this guide will be useful to regulate the tests carried out by scientific partner institutions.
In this conference, insights of the area of research that results from the intersection between design and health were presented. The research of the hD student Martina Caic’s focuses on customer experiences in value networks, with a main interest in robotic and ambient assisted living technologies. Martina has been at Fraunhofer AICOS as a visiting researcher and she made several observations of the sessions of physical exercise at a Portuguese day-care centre for older adults that is part of the user network COLABORAR over a period of three months. COLABORAR organized the field work for the student.
The article is entitled “Exergames for healthy ageing: Inclusion through design” and explores the technology appropriateness of the Fraunhofer AICOSs platform of physical exercise games for seniors designated Exergames. Martina’s work demonstrates the key factors for improving the chance of user uptake and acceptance of technology in this particular case study. The evolution of participants’ willingness to engage with the platform is documented as well. Martina also hilights the importance of engaging the elderly in their own care, since the exergame platform is intended to promote physical activity to older adults through entertaining video games. The full research paper is part of the proceedings of the conference and can be accessed here.
A longitudinal study on smartphone use by older adults in Porto, coordinated by Fraunhofer Portugal AICOS‘ Human-Centered Design team, is being set-up. Participants were recruited by COLABORAR and are ready to begin this longitudinal study.
Using a qualitative research approach, researchers of the Human-Centered Design team of Fraunhofer Portugal AICOS are starting a longitudinal study of over a one-year. This study aims to better understand how people use their smartphone and the possible changes in the patterns of its use over the time.
Participants will use a costumized senior-friendly smartphone app that enables them to perform common mobile tasks such as sending messages, make calls and taking photos. Emergency calls and help requests are also available. They can use the medication reminder app, as well as a navigational application. Smartphone-based monitoring of older adults is part of this study; for this purpose, activity level monitoring and fall detection apps are included. This monitoring is made possible through the use of a wearable device — the GoLiveClip. In addition, users can receive remote help from a caregiver who will use a web application.
The modules of the app won several prizes: Google, Vodafone, Zon and World Summit Award Mobile. All modules of the app were developed according to the needs of older adults and were tested by COLABORAR volunteers. Data collection will be made remotely in natural settings and every three months through in-person evaluations at Fraunhofer AICOS. This study will enable to understand how older adults use tools to prevent isolation, promote their autonomy, safety and quality of life.
COLABORAR recruited more than 50 older adults interested in participating in this study. They are enthusiasts about technology, although not all of them own a smartphone. This enables us to have individuals with different digital skills in the sample, making the sample more representative of the population of older adults.
Promotion of physical activity at home and fall prevention are the aims of the Active@Home project.
Active@Home is under development at Fraunhofer Portugal AICOS, along with Unie KBO, Comfort Keepers Portugal, ETH Zurich and MIRALab SARL. Interactive games for motor-cognitive training were developed. These games enable older adults to do exercises in a joyful and entertaining manner.
A session of tests took place at Fraunhofer. COLABORAR organised the session and counted with the participation of older adults in the network. They executed exercises of dance and Tai-chi while using motion sensors in the body to monitor their movements.
Participants had fun and gave valuable insights that we used for technology assessment.
Researchers have been working in a multidisciplinary team to build algorithms, game interfaces for TV and wearable sensors. The new project is called VITAAL and was just tested by the COLABORAR volunteers. They tried out the games and gave insights regarding the game interfaces.
We thank volunteers for colaborating in the project.
As part of the FallSensing project, researchers conducted a study with the aim of developing a multifactor solution for fall risk assessment. A customized therapeutic exercise prescription plan to prevent falls in the elderly was developed and tested by older adults.
We have just tested new serious interactive games. These games are focused on pelvic floor muscle training and aim at tackling urinary incontinence, as well as mobility and cognitive impairments.
The games are TV-based and inertial sensors are placed in specific parts of the body to monitor movement in real time. COLABORAR volunteers participated in the testing phase of this project, in which a masters’ student from Multimedia Communication added an important contribution and, on the other side, he used the work within this project as part of his masters’ thesis to submit to the university.
COGNISTIM is a mobile application combined with special glasses and it enables seniors to experience virtual reality through stimulation games. These games were designed to stimulate both physical and cognitive systems of older adults. We have a Master’s student from the University of Coimbra doing his master´s thesis within this project. The student developed the app and now he is testing it with COLABORAR volunteers.
We brought the equipment to a day-care centre and it was amazing to provide older adults with a totally new experience. These tests were great! We hope to introduce more seniors to virtual reality soon!
Usability tests were carried out at the Living Lab to help researchers test user interfaces for TV and inertial sensors. Participants were very committed and helped researchers find improvement points.
We all had a good time playing the games and learning with older adults.
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