New technologies are increasingly being used by older adults. Smartphones, tablets and apps are now part of the elderly’s vocabulary. But what impact do these technologies have on the daily life of older adults?
To find out, Fraunhofer AICOS’ Human-Centered Design researchers implemented a longitudinal study to get insights about the challenges and impact of mobile technology on older adults’ daily routines. The study includes people who already own a smartphone and people who do not.
This study will enable to depict how older adults experience the integration of technology in their everyday lives. Researchers will have access to real world data of technology use with the aim of designing interfaces for apps that overcome the barriers that these technologies bring with them.
Fraunhofer Portugal AICOS (located in Porto, in the UPTEC Building) develops research activities focused on digital technology applied to health, active aging and well-being. Examples of projects that are part of our portfolio:
Decentralized dermatology screening — mobile technology for healthcare professionals, validated as a monitoring or referral solution for skin lesions;
Decentralized Ophthalmology Screening — a smartphone-based portable optical device that automatically captures retinal images with intelligent guidance during acquisition and computer-assisted diagnostics integrated into the device;
Automatic, low-cost mobile microscopy — a low-cost, automatic alternative to conventional microscopes, adapted to effectively support microscopy-based diagnostics in areas with limited access to health services;
Advanced inertial sensor data processing for human activity recognition and motion characterization — applied to senior exergames, smartphone or tablet-based home physiotherapy programs, and inertial sensors, among others.
Fraunhofer Portugal AICOS, in developing applied research, is directly involved in digital transformation. Because we are aligned with international recommendations that involve all stakeholders in the design of technology-based solutions and services, COLABORAR is promoting the participation of clinicians. Therefore, we are addressing an invitation to health professionals with a possible interest in influencing health innovation to join a panel of clinical specialists. This panel will be in a privileged position to convey to researchers health needs, priorities and preferences. Through this initiative, healthcare professionals will learn about the research topics we are working on and will be able to spark future topics for our team to explore. We recommend that interested parties send email to email@example.com.
We are happy to have achieved the milestone of 3000 user research and testing sessions!
In the last 7 and a half years, COLABORAR supported 3000 user research activities. Requirements gathering, user interviews, diary studies, prototype testing, card sorting, focus groups, in-person usability studies, surveys and pilot studies are the activities carried out.
The COLABORAR team could not be more glad. We learned many things during this time regarding the recruitment of people for research and testing, as well as about carrying research with users. For the next years, we expect to double this milestone!
Psychologists often collect and analyse large amounts of data from their patients in their clinical practice. At Fraunhofer Portugal AICOS, an engineering student is developing a mobile app to support psychologists in their job.
Sixty COLABORAR volunteers made an important contribution to science by taking part in a session with a psychologist. The psychologist, also a volunteer, applied some psychology methods and instruments to evaluate each person.
The study received approval from an independent ethics committee. In the end of the study, participants will receive an individualized report provided by the psychologist. Many thanks to all participants for being so kind to participate in research! Your help adds value to technology, since real data are used in its development.
COLABORAR now provides its services to companies, start-ups and research centres. Access to real users of a “Living Lab” based in Porto is at the centre of the service.
Our 7 years’ experience in recruiting research participants along with the experience of the Human-Centred Design team in conducting ethnographic studies, usability testing, feasibility studies and healh technology assessment will add value to mobile apps and digital devices.
Compliance with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and research ethics are included in our services. Our team manages the feedback from the users so that the company can improve the technology under development prior to market entry.
COLABORAR is so honoured for being invited to organize and conduct a field trial for a European R&D unit of an industry client!
In Portugal, the trial is ongoing in two study sites in Porto, which are COLABORAR partner institutions. The equipment was installed and the data collection was initiated.
The fact that COLABORAR is the only Portuguese user network that is part of this study, along with other research centres in Europe, is a reason of pride for our team. It is the recognition of our good practices and prior experience in conducting pilot studies with older adults.
We hope to contribute to innovation for elderly citizens!
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.
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