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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Smart TV for the "third age"
Article Type: News and events From: Quality in Ageing and Older Adults, Volume 14, Issue 3.
Making our TVs even smarter could be a way of closing the digital divide between the younger and older generations. And volunteers who started out as guinea pigs have become design partners in a research project which has shown that the accessibility of everyday information communication technology (ICT) for the elderly is increasingly due to poor design and not inadequate users.
The MyUI research project, involving Human Factors Research Group (HFRG) at the University of Nottingham and the Nottingham University Business School, is looking at how the next generation of digital interactive TVs, with access to the world-wide web, could be used to deliver valued services to older people in their own domestic environments in ways which they find accessible and appealing.
Interactive TV appears to be very promising as a vehicle for older people to use to access web-based resources, information and community. The research is continuing to explore the benefits of adaptive interfaces as a way of making technology more accessible for all.
Anne Floyde, a Research Assistant in HFRG, said: "So much technology seems to be designed by the young, for the young. It is clear from our initial results that many older people are currently under-served by technology products, finding many devices completely unappealing or unusable, or ignoring much of the functionality, or in some cases finding them unavoidable but frustrating. [...] Older people are rarely consulted on such matters. We have found that all the encouragement they needed was a supportive environment. We soon discovered the best results came when volunteers were able to test out our technology in a familiar setting, with their normal support structures in place and with no disruption to their routine".
The MyUI project - is a European Union funded project aimed at increasing and mainstreaming the accessibility of every-day ICT by developing highly accessible life-enhancing technology-mediated services for older people. This includes adaptive interfaces which detect an individual's requirements - enabling people with age related conditions such as physio-motor, sensory or cognitive impairments to enjoy many of the benefits modern technology can bring.
MyUI team researcher Rob Edlin-White said: "For older users, the stakes of poor design are particularly high. They may abandon technology altogether if they find it difficult or frustrating to use. So, more suitable age-appropriate measures were introduced into the research programme. With the help of group activities we were able to monitor the response to various tasks played out on specially designed software on Smart TVs".
More information is available from Anne Floyde or Rob Edlin-White, at the University of Nottingham, on +44 (0)115 9514040, mailto:email@example.com; or Lindsay Brooke, Media Relations Manager at the University of Nottingham on +44 (0)115 951 5751.