Aging in Place MeetUp - February 24, 2016

from: Longevity Explorers | Aging in Place Technology

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Discussion Summary

I keep wondering if these MeetUps will become stale, and yet every time I meet new people and learn something new. We had another good meetup this week. Thanks to TechShop for providing the room and Voler Systems for the food and drink.

We had 25 people attend, a third were first time attendees!

We followed the standard agenda of intro, show-and-tell, unconference. Richard's intro was brief and to the point; always good to remind us all how the MeetUp fits into the big picture.

There were two show-and-tell presentations.

The first was about a new social connection app for seniors called Knect Today. Users select interests from a list of possibilities and the app will help them connect with other Knect Today members that have similar interests. The app is GPS aware and will only connect users who are nearby. We had a lively discussion about safety, privacy, and the willingness of seniors to use an app like this. 

The second talked about the challenges of getting into and out of the passenger side of an automobile. We saw a couple items on the market today. Then we all talked about how we might design something new to make it even easier. Naomi has seen a seat in Japan that extends from the car. Mike suggested a sheet of material that might help a person scoop their feet into the car. We discussed grab bars, handles, and how to close the door once the person is in.

Listen to the brainstorming session about better access to cars for older adults here.

The unconference is free form, of course, but this time we coalesced into three groups.

I sat in a group discussing senior techno-phobia. We re-positioned that as less a phobia and more of a disappointment in the user interface design of most software solutions. Embedding technology into everyday devices solves some of the problem, but why can't software apps be easier to use? Email horror stories, voice command foibles, and a general feeling that the user interfaces are too crowded and iconized for most seniors. Mark talked about "zooming" a user interface to expose more or fewer features. Imagine a slider that as it moved up less used icons disappear and commonly used icons get bigger. Eventually a "zoomed out" email program might just have a few button for Read, Write, Delete. No formatting icons; no attach file icons; no "move to" icons. I found that an interesting idea.

A second group talked about seniors using smart phones. Some don't, but many under age 75 do. But even in that group their use of apps is more limited; the group talked about what may cause this. Sometimes a person doesn't know that a phone can do some task for them; others might be unwilling to give up their old way of doing something; others might feel that their privacy may be compromised in some way. And others get tired of confusing, small text interfaces.

The third group talked about architectural design for aging. They mentioned that affordances should be hidden whenever possible. A home built to be senior friendly should not really look different from any other home. A no-lip shower can be stylish and modern; it doesn't have to be made with institutional white tile.

The groups were actively talking right up until our 9pm stopping time. And a few small groups were still talking when we finished cleaning up. I'm looking forward to our next event.

 

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