Our discussion about whether or not our senior citizen will and can use technology, has led us to a number of examples where technology is being embraced by the elders and some others where despite the efford of the designers, the elderly just wouldn’t buy it. These examples has made it clear that it is not easy to design technology for the elderly, and that they should be viewed as an target market in its own right. The fact that the group “elderly” is constantly changing (i.e. the elderly of today are not the same as those in a couple of years, and so will be the problems with new technology they face) makes this even harder from an economic point of view. Aid concerning technology designed for the elderly of today will be totally redundant in a couple of years, when the elderly of that time will have had plenty of time to accumulate to such technology. Therefore the question has been raised whether the concept of “ubiquity” could give a solution to this problem because when there is no technology to see, or no different “way of working” to adapt to, we can’t make a problem out of it. Whether this theoretical idea works in practice is of course difficult to see. But after some search I found this project. Digitale Media (EDM) has designed the concept NOVICEPT. NOVICEPT is a touchscreen device embodying all technological assistance an elderly person can use in a service flat. Some features included in this system are for example being able to control the lights, make a call, do E-shopping or even use it as a remote for all the other (incomprehensible) electronic devices at home. Also some medical applications are included like taking the blood pressure or communicating with their doctor. In short: amost all the electronic devices an elder person could have or need at home are included in or controlled by this device. Of course all this would be worthless if the system would be as difficult to control as the devices it bundles, therefore one of the main goals the designers have been to make it as easy to use as possible. Although in my humble opinion it still looks a bit too complicated, it already is a major improvement on the difficult devices our senior citizens have to work with nowadays. The question now is off course thus: how do the seniors react to it? The device has been tested in a number of service flats giving some perspective on how the habitants react to such a device. Mainly the elderly where reserved at first, but as they learned more things that they could do with it, and got used to the device, the participants embraced the concept. In this next movie (sadly enough only in dutch) this concept and some of the people they have tried it out on are explained by one of the designer.
An interesting part is where he explaines that they noticed that there were 3 types of elderly in respect to new technology. -People who don’t want the device, and never will -The more “doubting” people who say “I don’t think this will work for me” and -The more “innovative” elders who are willing to try out a new “feature” And as the narrators says, it are those last people who will make the second type become more lenient towards the technology to a point where they will even get interested into it. What strikes me to this explanation is that it was not at all new for me, it were the same concepts used in “everyday life” marketing, where the ‘early adapters will pull the other people towards a certain product. This concept is another prove of the theory I was talking about earlier in this post, that the elderly should be approached as a market on it’s own.