The Design of Information Computing Technology for Older Adults

Funding Details
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
  • Grant type: Discovery Grants Program - Individual
  • Years: 2012/13 to 2016/17
  • Total Funding: $210,000
Keywords
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Project Summary

My long-term objective is to help establish the field of elder-computer interaction: putting older users (65+) at the center of interactive technology design, rather than being an afterthought, which is most often the case now. The research program is to design interactive information and communication technologies (ICT) for emerging and current platforms such as smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers in accordance with the unique sensory, perceptual, cognitive, and motor abilities of older adults, as well as their preferences, computing expertise, and contexts of use. Elder-computer interaction is investigated within three parallel yet complementary threads. The first seeks to understand the nature of interruptions and multi-tasking experienced by ICT users, and how ICT designs should accommodate those interruptions. A specific focus is to understand how these needs change across the lifespan. The second thread examines the unique ICT learning needs and preferences of older adults to design novel, age-appropriate mobile and desktop interfaces. The third thread assesses and builds upon strengths and limitations of different input methods and their respective interaction techniques, including touch, for older users. The research methodology includes iterative prototype design and development, formal lab experiments, and qualitative field evaluation. Investigations include participants across the lifespan, from young adult to age 65+, in order to identify age effects. The overarching design approach emphasizes personalization: designs that adapt or evolve as a user ages based on changing abilities, preferences, and contexts of use. The research program will produce novel interfaces and interaction techniques, design guidelines for existing and future platforms, and fundamental new knowledge about human interaction capabilities. All of the proposed research falls within Computer Science in the area of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and aligns with Universal Usability and User-Sensitive Inclusive Design.

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