Design for Aging: Enhancing Everyday Technology Use

Design for Aging: Enhancing Everyday Technology Use

Marita A. O’Brien (University of Alabama in Huntsville, USA) and Wendy A. Rogers (Georgia Institute of Technology, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1966-1.ch006


Modern technology incorporates a wide range of digital technologies, including those created specifically for everyday tasks typically operated in stand-alone mode. Yet, innovations in mobile technologies and the Internet influence design and adoption of these everyday technologies by introducing new interaction techniques and by providing access to information and people that facilitate effective use. This chapter describes best practices and challenges for enabling older adults to adopt everyday technologies transformed by technology innovations. First, the authors define everyday technologies and known factors influencing successful use including environmental support and context of use. Then, they discuss issues and challenges of design for everyday technologies and summarize the factors that influence everyday technology use in a conceptual diagram. The authors also present recommendations for specific constituents that may improve technology adoption by older adults. Lastly, they discuss future opportunities for enhancing everyday technology use with good design, useful support, and appropriate innovations.
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Everyday technologies are characterized by the tasks they enable and the way in which they are first used. Everyday tasks occur in naturalistic environments during the ordinary activities of a target population, even if they are not conducted every day (Sinnott & Cook, 1989). For older adults, these everyday tasks have been generally specified as Activities of Daily Living (e.g., bathing, eating; Katz, Ford, Moskovitz, Jackson, & Jaffe, 1963); Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (e.g., managing medication, preparing meals; Lawton, 1990), and Enhanced Activities of Daily Living (e.g., communicating with family and friends, hobbies; Rogers, Meyer, Walker, & Fisk, 1998). Everyday technologies are typically used with little formal training or instruction.

The International Standards Organization (2006) recommended several practices for designers to follow in developing effective everyday technologies in the ISO 20282-1 standard, entitled “Ease of Operation of Everyday Products.” In this section, we review research about these factors pertinent to older adults by describing potential sources of knowledge for using new technologies and contextual factors of use.

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