Monday, 8 June 2015

THAW Event Summary: Can Technology Help Older People Lead a Healthier and Happy Life?

May 27th 2015 marked the first Technology for Healthy Ageing and Wellbeing (THAW) event bringing together the general public with those in the NHS, councils, charities and industry to discuss if technology could be used to help older people to lead happier healthier lives.

The day started with Professor Arlene Astell giving a short presentation on the THAW network and its objectives.

Shortly after, the room was briefed on its first activity of the day:Technology Interaction”. Attendees were asked to get into pairs and to choose an item of technology from their table. They were then given 10 minutes to learn how to use the item before giving feeding back to the table on how they found this and what they thought about the product (i.e., who would use it; its good and bad points and so forth). A spokesperson from each table was then nominated to give feedback to the audience.

Tables reported that some devices lacked readable print; featured confusing technical jargon; had no descriptive elements for easily identification and were not suitable for those with dexterity issues. Others, on the other hand, reported some items as being straight forward, logical and easy to use.

At this point, there was a lunch break; after which all three of the THAW students gave presentations on their research.

Jacob Andrews presented a talk: “Can we use technology to detect the early signs of mental health difficulties in older adults?”

David Clayton gave a presentation on: “Exploring the uses of technology by and for older people to overcome loneliness and social isolation Social Care Interventions and Self-help Strategies”

Matthew Bennion’s presentation topic was: “Can digital devices capable of reading emotion make the delivery of digital therapy more user-friendly and acceptable to older adults?”

Once the talks had finished, the room was briefed on the second activity “Scavenger Hunt”.  Multiple apps and technologies relating to the three THAW projects were placed around the room. Participants were asked to take a sheet and go to each activity station, filling in details relating to each experience as they moved around.   Once completed, participants were instructed to head back to their seat and answer a further three questions at the end of the form.
Participants at the event experimenting with technology and feeding back to one another.

Activities included:
  • MoodPanda - A website that helps people to track their mood and receive support from other users when they are feeling down.

  • Lexulous – An online word game that can be played alone, with friends, other players, individually or against the computer.

  • Mr Mood - An application that allows users to track their mood over time.

  • Mantarobots - A telepresence robot that allows remote users to connect to audio/video conferences and to move around looking up/down, left and right in order to interact with other people and the environment the robot is located

All in all the event was a huge success and received lots of positive feedback, if you’d like to be involved in future THAW events, please contact Matthew Bennion by clicking here.

Written by Matthew Bennion

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