World Usability Day 2019

We are celebrating the World Usability Day 2019.

We congratulate all professionals in the field and all volunteer participants in usability studies.Whether they work on objects such as tables or cars, or they work on software for computer, TV, smartphone or tablet, they are very important as their study methods enable users having good experiences on using a device.

At Fraunhofer Portugal AICOS, there is an entire team dedicated to these issues. They are engineers, designers, and other professionals working together within the Human Centred-Design team.

 

How to recruit research participants in 4 steps

We are sharing the steps we follow when it comes to preparing for the recruitment of research participants for a usability session. Participant recruitment can be difficult, especially for a researcher just getting into Human Centered-Design, so we are sharing a few things that we always do to make the recruitment effective and easier.

These are the 4 steps:

1 – Define target users

The participants’ characteristics depends on the context of the study and the target users of the technology in study. For example, you may need active older adults who still are engaged in many physical or social activities and are technology proficients. Or it could be useful for you to gain insights from older adults who not usually engage with technology.

2 – Plan the test materials

The materials you are planing to use in a usability session for users to interact with should be taken into account when you recruit participants. paper prototypes are a good option to use with non-proficient users, because they eliminate the barrier of using a smartphone or a tablet. Thus, participants will be able to concentrate on understanding the workflow and focus on the tasks. On the other hand, when you are planning to conduct a usability test in the validation phase of the technology and therefore more functional and interactive prototypes should be used, proficient users are required.

3 – Provide context

Explaining the aim of the project briefly, as well as the materials to be used, day, time and duration of the session is very important when approaching a potential participant. This information allow participants to have an overall understanding of what the research is about, why you are doing it and what you expect from him/her. Bear in mind that you should emphasize that there are not good and bad answers, you just need him/her opinion.

4 – Pay attention to national holidays and festive seasons

Older adults often take mini-holidays and city breaks, usually close to a national holiday, weekend or festive season so to they can spend time with family relatives who still work. Therefore, it is not a good idea scheduling test sessions in this periods. Adapt your schedule to the participants’ availability, providing several options in the calendar.

These are practical tips that you can use in your next recruitment for a usability session. Let us know if you find it useful by contacting us (use the contact form).

Senior citizens as partners

In a research center where technology for senior citizens is designed and developed, to include them in the research process is essential to produce innovative technology for well-being and quality of life of the elderly.

Fraunhofer Portugal AICOS‘ Living Lab brings together researchers and senior citizens, promoting their interaction through partnerships with organizations in the community. Day-care centers, municipalities, senior residences, among other, adhered to this initiative. The Living Lab includes the voices of the elderly and facilitates the integration of their preferences into the technology that aims to match their needs. Hence, we aim for future technologythat acts as a companion and a tool that is truly easy to use. Researchers and senior citizens are building technology that in the future will enable older adults to keep their autonomy and participation both in family and in society.

More than 1000 senior citizens already joined the Living Lab COLABORAR. If you would like to join the group, please sign up here.

Scientific volunteering

Whether you are 18 or 80 years old, be part of innovation.

COLABORAR promotes a research approach that brings together scientists and stakeholders that have knowledge about a particular issue. It could be in the area of social assistance, healthcare services, public transportation or urban planning. Accordingly, social workers, healthcare professionals, ageing specialists and citizens are encouraged to engage in science. This is as simple as share their needs, priorities and preferences.

International organizations reccomend this collaborative model of research with the aim of improving outcomes. We are certain that our research is more valuable when it addresses the concerns of patients, professionals and users.

Be part of this initiative and influence the research we do. Shape technologies and technological services you will use. Your oppinion is important. To voluntarily engage in research, fill in the contact form.

Longitudinal study

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.

COLABORAR – Panel of clinical specialists

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 colaborar@fraunhofer.pt.

3000 user research and testing sessions with users

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!

Collecting data to develop a mobile app for psychologists

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 can help you test your technology


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.

 


Pilot study for a European R&D entity

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!