Our aim was to support independent living. Based on secondary research I found that degrading memory was one of the major challenges faced by the elderly trying to live independently. I decided to focus on creating a system to assist with memory and cognition.
Initial brainstorming led to 3 concepts.
The first concept was to develop a wearable device that was simple to use, and allowed various levels of alerts to match the importance and urgency of tasks.
The second concept was to create a set of affordable programmable devices that provided contextual reminders. Each device would have lights, timers and buttons. They would each be placed on or near day-to-day tasks, and start glowing when the task was due.
One placed on a trash can would light up every time it needed to be cleared out, one could be on the collar of a pet that lit up when it needed food.
The third concept created a basic checklist of must-haves and must-dos that the user could check at any time to see if they had leftover tasks. Interacting with the button would complete or snooze a task.
Georgia Tech's Aware Home lab helped recruiting elderly people for interviews. A visit to Mrs. Taylor's(name changed) home then helped take the ideas ahead. I learnt about how Mrs.Taylor managed her day-to-day activities alone.
The biggest insights from the conversation were:
1) She was extremely well planned and kept lists of all possible tasks
2) Her diary had notes of every possible to-do, including checklists of things to do when she left the house.
3) She used an iPhone but did not feel comfortable with learning all features. She was also afraid of losing critical data if she lost her phone and preferred to keep her reminders separate from the phone.
4) She hated "feeling old" or being perceived as old. Using memory aids or any kind of assistive device would make her feel that way.
Mrs. Taylor was most interested in Concept 3: the checklist. Spending some time co-designing with her gave the following new directions and constraints :
1) If the device was wall-mounted, it should look like a pretty artefact or decoration rather than an assistive device.
2) The ideas of contextual notifications from the other concepts was appreciated and it could be applied to the Checklist concept.