From CS 160 User Interfaces Sp10
iCare, a mobile application for elderly people to stay connected with their families and live safely while remaining independent.
Target User Group
The target user group is elderly Americans (over the age of 65+) who don't live in nursing homes (this is our provisional definition of "independent"). These people are not tech-savvy and consequently have problems working with the latest technology - particularly mobile smartphones. Their problems with mobile stem from the seemingly difficult user-interfaces, as well as the small physical screen size of the devices.
The target group is very sizable. In 2004 the proportion of elderly Americans was 12.7% (US Department of Health and Human Services). Only 7.4% of the age 75+ Americans lived in nursing homes in 2006. Less than 16% of the age 85+ group lived in such facilities. (USA Today) As the number of elderly people living in nursing homes continues to drop, technology that facilitates independence will increase in demand.
These elderly people have a sense of independence and this causes their families to worry about their safety and well-being. It's important to note that the families will be the ones who purchase the mobile devices. So even though our official target group is the elderly (they'll be the ones navigating the application), we're also solving the problems (relating to concern) of the caregivers.
At the most basic level, the problem can be described as follows: elderly independent adults want to communicate easily with their loved ones and live safely (being able to take care of themselves), and their caregivers want the same. This problem occurs in situations where the elderly are living outside of nursing homes, and thus maintain (at least some level of) responsibility in their own well-being. The problem is more prominent the farther the elderly live away from their families, the more independence they take on, and the more their health deteriorates.
Both aspects of the problem (communication and well-being) can be improved with a technical solution because technology is already being used to solve similar problems in different situations (e.g. cell phones to communicate, blood sugar monitors for health).
As mentioned above, there are two distinct groups who share this same problem (the elderly themselves, and their caregivers), but focus will be placed on the elderly.
Problem Context and Forces
By choosing a mobile solution for such a problem, we ensure that such factors as time, location, etc. won't have a drastic impact on the solution (even though the severity of the problem might be impacted). We carry our mobile devices literally everywhere we go. One can argue that some elderly people haven't developed this habit; however, as evidenced by the prevalence of mobile devices, such a habit won't be hard to pickup. It's important to note that two common situations, showering and sleeping, do exist when a mobile device may not be around. From a providing safety standpoint, a mobile solution for these problems may not be present.
As mentioned above, the number of elderly living in nursing homes is low and dropping. More people are opting for a more independent route. At the same time, technology (particularly smartphone) is becoming ubiquitous. These two forces make a mobile solution very obvious.
The technology clearly exists that lets the elderly communicate with their loved ones. There are hundreds of smartphones out there that do just about anything. However, a complete solution (one that provides a sufficient level of features to stay connected) geared entirely for elderly people has not been developed for the iPhone. Similarly, there are many applications designed to promote safety (e.g. apps that let you enter emergency numbers, etc), but a solution specifically for the elderly does not exist. A solution for the elderly will take into account poor eyesight, lack of technological experience, etc.
- Dial a family member by picture
- Send a text message of current location to family members
- Set reminders
- View medicine that needs to be taken today
I don't have a Mac or iPhone.