After having spent time with the elderly, we started thinking in concepts that could improve the life of the elderly. We had the honour of having Niels Clausen-Stuck as guest teacher for the first two weeks of our GUI design module, where he, along with Alex from CIID, helped us through the whole design process. A process looking a lot like the good old ISO13407 which I am quite familiar with after having studied product development at DTU for 5 years. Well, this post is not going to be about design processes (though it’s a topic that I’m very interested in).
After having visited the elderly, we found out that they are no longer interested in creating and sharing new memories, they are more interested in re-living old memories, with people that can help them filling in the gaps and completing their stories from the past. But it’s not always easy to find people at your own age that you can actually do this with, as almost 85% of the residents on the old folks homes have dementia to some degree. And as the course was about graphical user interfaces, we also had to create some kind of device. After lots of thinking and another visit to Plejehjemmet Aftensol, we decided to develop a “time machine”. Well, not a time machine in the traditional sense, but at least something that would help you think back in time.
We decided to build a radio, that could go back in time. Instead of having a frequency scale, this radio has a time scale. Turn the knob back to the year you would like to get refreshed, and the radio will start playing content from that period. If you only want to listen to specific types of content, there is a knob for selecting that, e.g. news, radio-theater or classical music. I won’t go into the details of the UI, but we put a lot of thought into arranging the buttons and the graphical layout of the screen, to be as intuitive as possible. As this mock-up was developed in the second iteration, it is still very early – unfortunately we didn’t have time to take it to the elderly to evaluate it.
Technically speaking the radio is just a device with a wifi connection, and access to digitalised radio archives, e.g. from Danmarks Radio or BBC. The interface is kept “old-fashioned” on purpose, to keep a higher level of familiarity to the user. Our philosophy was, that this concept is a radio and therefore it should look and feel like a radio. Not a computer or streaming mp3-player.
Electronics-wise the mock-up (or hardware sketch) was built using Flash, Arduino (+ potmeters), a hacked Nokia speaker and an Asus Eee 901, all put into a cabinet covered with sheets of paper with a wood texture printed on them. The picture below is showing the radio when it’s not covered by the fake table.
In general the GUI class resulted in some really nice models, considering we had very short time for the projects. Take a look at some of the other mock-ups in my Flickr photostream. If you don’t want to go to Flickr, the photos from the exhibition (and some from the process) can also be found here.