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These are some of the things that never made it to the thesis presentation:
The New Old Thesis Project concluded:
Well overdue, this will (perhaps) be the final blogpost on this thesis blog, as the final presentation is concluded, and I am now graduated a Master of Industrial Design 🙂
The presentation did not go free of problems (as to be expected); the sensors` main concern was still the relevancy for elderly users (it was difficult to indicate to them that they would be among the target users). My research had been done in a much too superficial manner (on this I agree, since I tried to reach over way too much, and had too little time at the end to include it all; too much was condensed and therefore possibly too inconsequent), my idea-bank and cultural reflections (such as japanese emotional approach to technology) were among the things that pulled the project in a positive direction.
The concepts came across perhaps as too strange, weak, or unorthodox, and not well enough supported by research and convincing retoric. I did find it difficult to combine a future projection aimed at a demographic this particular, however, I do feel that I have touched on some central and interesting issues to the way of doing design for the future old. The focus on subcultural belonging, personal political conviction and continued self-expression I am convinced will be among the aspects which will define the Grey Wave as fundamentally different from today`s elderly, and that it will influence the design done for them, and by themselves, in a profound way. This was the main focus of each of my thesis concepts.
Membank, a location specific mobile phone service which lets you tag memory files to specific locations and share them with family members and leave behind in a personal memory vault to be seen also by future generations.
*Thanks to Stefano Mirti and Id-Lab for the collaboration! Probably be seeing you alot from now on 😉
The presentation of my final concepts at AHO for the panel of sensors went simply ok. Main questionmarks were put at the relevancy for elders, a point which I had tried to make clear through underlining the new old`s many subgroups and subculutures, an approach I feel is very important when designing for the next generation of elderly, as opposed to today`s parameters focusing solely on aids and politically as well as ergonomically correct products.
Another key hypothesis of this thesis is the stronger focus on coming trends, cultural and technological, as imperative to include when designing services for the next generation of elderly.
A new presentation in the open forum setting will hopefully make this point clearer.
I was lucky enough to get a meeting with Lavrans Løvlie, co-founder of service design firm Live|Work, to discuss my thesis concepts. During the meeting parallells were drawn to service concepts such as Timebank, made by Live|Work in a London innercity context.
Regarding my service concept, Membank, several points were made as to the privacy aspect of the service being a key issue, as well as the experience for the elderly users using a mobile phone (for which I make no designs) would have to be streamlined and intuitive.
I thank Lavrans for the meeting and the advice, something I will definately try to incorporate in my final presentation.
I met with Åse Kari Haugeto, project leader at Teknologirådet (Technology Council) of Norway, who has facilitated and organized a scenario workshop on the subject of the future elderly. Her report, “Start me up!”, describes three different scenarios for the govt use of technology to cover the needs of the future old.
The report confirms and sheds light on several of the types of technologies and problems related to these technologies, which I discuss in my thesis, and represent a few of the solutions I have consciously evaded for stated reasons; an strong focus on aid solutions, surveying technologies in homes and in/on the body, all of which are necessary and very likely to happen. I have expressed a desire to look at other concept solutions for the elderly, some that provide a different view on them as a demographic, and as an active, strong consumer group.
My meeting with her gave some feedback on my ideas and proposed concepts. She was very interested in my take on the future old, and some of the evolving trends I’ve identified as relevant. Of the concepts I showed her, a few seemed to provoke her interest stronger than others; such as the virtual home, the blogger newspaper and a memory sharing mobile service.
Mostly we discussed the emerging prosumer culture, and whether certain groups of people among the future old are libertarians, shy or offended by the overkill development and implementation of surveillance technological features in new services and devices. No hard conclusion is possible to reach here; some are and some aren’t; some value personal freedom more than security, some define security in different ways, and some tend to accept willingly the extra surveillance cameras in the city, in order to feel safer.
It’s another question completely when the surveillance becomes so imposing as to be on your body and in your on home. I think those with “libertarian” tendencies will get those reenforced substantially, which is the basis for one of my concepts, the RFID blocker apparel.
During the meeting we also discussed the possible scenario that elderly will become future prosumers, as a way to feel more appreciated, have a routine, and to enhance their feeling of independence. This is the basis for the “GoggleNewsPaper” concept, a newspaper written by elderbloggers, printed for elderly internet-shy newsreaders. This concept in particular was appreciated by Ms. Haugeto as a good idea.
As a conclusion, I will continue to iterate on the three chosen targets; the libertarian, the prosumer, and the nostalgic elder. In particular, the GoogleNewspaper will definately become a concept proposal to finalize, along with the RFID blocker apparel and the memory sharing mobile service; a location specific service appealing to elderly online social target.
Meeting with Stefano Mirti in Milano, this period has been coloured by iterating on several concept directions and presenting them to several of my former professors at NABA; including Anna Barbara, Nicoletta Branzi and Giulio Vinaccia.
The meeting with Stefano included feedback from Line Ulrika Christensen, project supervisor at ID Lab. Several previous concepts were discussed, and as a report of the meeting’s outcome, I’ve composed the following to represent the critique given;
+- Concept critical review:
• Good intentions
• Good thought around combined use of emerging technologies
• “human touch”
• Open for misuse by “undesirables”
• Not specific for elderly
Cure Kit +:
• Could be an interesting design concept to create discussion around “ubisafety”, video communication and privacy
• Raises the psychological issue of presentation of self via online communication
• If executed with convincing visuals could seem realistic
Cure Kit -:
• Too unlikely for a mass product
• Not convincing enough as a critical design project
• Unclear purpose
RFID Overload +:
• Addresses the privacy issue
• Can be done fashionably
• If so, targeted specifically for elderly
RFID Overload -:
• Unsure about it being an efficient way to block RFID skimming
• Could be troublesome in use
• Control over ubi-transactions
• Simple in use
• Allows for sharing perhaps unknown to elderly users; a new way to look at net use for them
• Information overload for an elderly user
UbiSafe Software for mobile +:
• Emphasizes privacy issues and gives you control
• Simple interface design for elderly
• Can work on any mobile phone to ensure privacy
• Can be cheap, downloadable
• Like Ubibracelet, allows for sharing of transactions
UbiSafe Software -:
• Interface design not really my forte
• Unsure of technical requirements
Maneki Neko +:
• Simple RFID blocking, no fancy extras
• Emotional object
• To be used as apparel, not a necessary tech object
• Has a cultural link
Maneki Neko -:
• Other similar solutions exist; a more diversified angle is needed to create an appeal
Goggle News Paper +:
• Good idea for a service by/for the elderly
• Transcending media online to offline
• Earning possibility for elderbloggers
• Including also the internet shy elderly
• Possible appeal globally
• Tactile stable medium, nostalgic and safe
Goggle News Paper -:
• Could be seen as regressive, compared to an online version
• Subjective news written by citizen journalists? Editor, fact checking needed. Ref. OhMyNews.
Collective Memory +:
• Interesting thought and use of location specific technology (mobile phone/GPS)
• Experience oriented; memories and stories
• Large possibilities for a massive databank,
• Large possibilities for personal contribution
• Plays on several psychological levels; leaving something behind, curiosity of others, history dissemination, human
• Opens up for personal creativity and creatively made content, ref. Youtube
Collective Memory -:
• Can be misused, being location specific.
• Goes against previous statement about privacy
• Needs to exclude personal sensitive data
RFID Symbols +:
• Graphically nice
• Makes clear statement
RFID Symbols -:
• Originally intended for “Who’s Arfid: a guide to understanding RFID technology”, a discarded concept
• Perhaps a moot point to make
RFID Blockerwear +:
• Simple blocker tags as apparel
• Raises privacy issue, once again
• Could become a “street” symbol for elder libertarians
RFID Blockerwear -:
Another result of the meeting, that came out from discussing the types of concepts proposed, were the types of targets I indicate. The elderly prosumer is an interesting target, as online social networking among elderly is growing, elderblogging is growing, and the citizen journalism trend indicates a new way to earn on online activities, something that could be a very feasible, fun and interesting activity for a future retiree.
I still want to make a concept regarding ubi-security, since I believe it affects us all, and perhaps particularly members of the boomer generation that has protested, fought and become activists promoting social liberties throughout their adult lives.
The mobile service I indicate in the Collective Memory concept, is interesting as it offers some of the same aspects of the prosumer trend, motivating elderly to share content on the net, and opens up a new way to think about social networking; location specific. The feasibility of this concept relies on GPS technology, and active mobile nodes in cell phones, something that’s being researched and patented now.
As a conclusion, the prosumer target, the libertarian target and the nostalgic online target serve as basis for three interesting concepts I wish to finalize for this thesis.
I received a comment from a german mediastudent who is as concerned with privacy as perhaps many more of us should be, and told me about his reaction to his new RFID tagged passport he got for his coming trip to Mexico. He raised questions about the safety of this technology, and told me how he went about it to ensure that his data was safe. He found a company that sells aluminium covers especially made for passports to protect your data from unathorized access; as reported from this german newsfeed.
He also posts a scary reference to what he feels is: “a society which dictators would dream of”, in his hands..
See his blog here > (in german).
Although I`ve talked to older adults today regarding privacy issues, it seems that most of the people actively concerned with privacy issues today are younger people; it is more common among today`s elderly to accept to a greater extent the regulations and restrictions laid down by the government, but will the boomer generation feel the same?
Based on what I`ve heard and read, I would say they are as concerned about their privacy as younger people are; they are, after all, the ones who have tought us about the freedoms we enjoy today.
(This is a small article about the law giving you insight into your files in the Norwegian Police Sikkerhetstjenste that`s been recorded from the 1970`s until today. It was recently revoked. The norwegians who has been under surveillance include protesters from the leftwing movement in the early 70`s. )
I`ve had several meetings lately with design professors and researchers at AHO, where I discussed my hypothesis and subject matter for my thesis. Apparently, the issue of personal information security in a ubicomp society is an important one and a possible fruitful area for design intervention. The feedback from these meetings was concrete and to the point, and I feel I got some ground to stand on with my hypothesis. However, even though a solution for the elderly letting them stay in control of their interactions with ubiquitous technology is interesting, it was pointed out that I should continue to work on different types of concepts further, to increase my solution space. I very much agree with this, and I will try and develop several concepts side by side, utilizing a common scenario, but playing on different strings.
The project has changed a lot since my initial project brief; it contained a desire to create a fun, positive and motivating service for the elderly in a future ubicomp setting. However, reading about this coming technological society, several problems has come into consideration; and the issue of visibility and a sense of personal control I believe is very central to a future scenario of this kind, and a particularly interesting one for the future old. However, an issue like personal control (a psychological issue as much as an actual one) and new technology (about which an elderly person will possibly have little knowledge of, or interest in) is possible to adress i different ways. The product designerly way would be to produce a device, object or service rendering the elderly in actual control of their transactions and interactions with ubicomp. Another way, which I find very interesting, is the critical design approach, which through a more artistic installation or object explains and puts the finger on a specific issue, through which the technology itself is explained to the “user” or beholder.
The third way is of course to device a service or product utilizing the coming technology in a constructive manner, working out a way for people, the new old, to enjoy it. In my “ideabank” there still isn`t a convincing idea as I see it; but I will continue to work on it in paralell for a little while longer, to see if something comes out. Our AHO design theorist is right; we should not lock into a single concept to early! Diversity is gold..
I found this set of questions related to the sense of personal control interesting. They are related to persons living with cancer, an insecure state of living, where the people involved are asked to identify what gives them a sense of control. Under the link you can see what they answered. Note that Knowledge – Information is on first place. Perhaps drawing a paralell between living with a serious illness and living as an elder in a ubicomp society is stretching it far, but sometimes people who are in such an insecure situation give very honest answers, and can give an indication on what is relevant for all of us.