iNeighbour TV: A Social TV Application to Promote Wellness of Senior Citizens

iNeighbour TV: A Social TV Application to Promote Wellness of Senior Citizens

Jorge Ferraz Abreu (University of Aveiro, Portugal), Pedro Almeida (University of Aveiro, Portugal) and Telmo Silva (University of Aveiro, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-3667-5.ch001
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In this chapter, the authors present the on-going work of the iNeighbour TV research project that aims to promote health care and social interaction among senior citizens, their relatives, and caregivers. The TV set was the device chosen to mediate all the action, since it is a friendly device and one with which the elderly are used to interacting. A study, conducted among the project’s target audience, using a participatory design approach is addressed in the chapter. Its purpose was to better characterize this type of users, identify relevant features, and evaluate usability and user interface requirements targeted to television (in an IPTV infrastructure). The analysis of the study results, which ensured the revision of the project’s features, is also presented along with a comprehensive description of the validated features. Some of these include automatic user recognition system, medication reminder, monitoring system (of deviations from daily patterns), caregiver support, events planning, audio calls, and a set of tools to promote community service. The chapter also focuses on the challenges to define the evaluation of the iNeighbour TV through an analysis of related projects and their lab or in situ approaches, concluding that, although the in situ methodology is more complex, it is more suitable for the iNeighbour TV project. The process of implementing a field trial with this specific target audience is revealing important challenges, but the diversity of data that it potentially provides reinforces the relevance of such an evaluation.
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Target Audience

The elderly represent a Target Audience (TA) considerably heterogeneous in terms of digital literacy, willingness, social behavior, etc. This makes the development of this type of applications more complex demanding a previous and balanced definition of this TA. For the purpose of this study, the research team as decided to focus on the case of the Portuguese elderly.

According to the World Health Organization, Human age stages are classified as follows (Organization, 2004): Adult age (15-30 years old); Mature age (31-45 years old); Transition and intermediate age (46-60 years old); Less Old (61-75 years old); Very Old (76-90 years old). According to the Portuguese National Institute of Statistic (NIS), by 2009, 17,9% of the Portuguese population was elderly from 65 years old on (Estatistica, 2010a). Most of the Portuguese elderly population is inactive (83,3%) (Estatística, 2010b), and the number of families composed solely by elderly is increasing (more 36% from 1991 to 2001) (Estatística, 2003). This might have contributed to place seclusion as the second biggest problem among the Portuguese elderly population (Marktest, 2007).

In parallel with age people can potentially suffer from a large spectrum of impairments. These impairments can be at sensory, physical, and cognitive levels and they tend to appear combined increasing its impact. All these factors have to be considered when interacting with elderly for research purposes, affecting conversations, locations, the group´s composition and size and artefacts used (Barrett & Kirk, 2000). These functional disabilities carry additional challenges when developing for elderly population.

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