Aloha Ambe

Queensland University of Technology, Australia

What contextual factors make older adults unique?

Older people with their life-long experiences and accumulated wisdom over the years make them not only unique but valuable to society. When younger generations are generally accepting of new innovations, the older generations are more critical and mindful of having these in their lives. The way they value their routines, their habits and the way they try to find balance in their life in a lifetime are wonderful aspects to learn from.

In our research, we did explicitly set research participants to be 60 years old and over, however, we believe that the chronological process of ageing wherein 60 is associated with retirement age in developed countries, are not the sole factor nor it is a widely accepted determinant factor to be considered an “older adult”. With other scholars, we believe that precise beginning of old age or being an “older adult” is subjective, varies culturally and historically, thus old age is considered as a social construct that represents transformations in a period of time encompassing biological and psychological changes [4,13]. Also, it is in the mindset of the person themselves that defines ageing for them [6].

Why do you think aging is an interesting area to research?

Aside from the fact that there is rapid ageing population growth in different parts of the world and the demand for better product and services for them is pertinent, ageing research is both interesting and important because it is not just a story of “them” but it is a story of “us”. All of us are ageing and if we are lucky, we get to belong in the older demographic that we are aiming to design for and with. The research area is challenging because as designers and researchers, we can only be a spectator of a life that is lived. Until we get to that point in our life, we can never see what they see in their everyday, experience what they experience and feel what they feel. The challenge is to fully understand and to truly appreciate how they lead their lives that we may learn from as researchers and as a society. Research on older adults opens up new avenues on how to look at things – the way we view a participant, how we execute a method or how we conduct the research as a whole. The different factors that embody an older person’s being and how we as researchers approach the participants and the matter at hand with respect, understanding and humility are invaluable contributions to CHI research and to the community as a whole.

What themes have you explored in your work?

In our pursuit to understand technology in the life of older adults who live autonomously, we are learning about user diversity through technology individuation [3], wherein the uniqueness of each individual is highlighted in how they use technology as a reflection of their identity, attitude and character. Self-identity, experiences and emotions are an integral part of how people use technology. The uniqueness is even more magnified in older users who already have years of experience, in-placed everyday practices, deeper wisdom, and a wealth of stories and memories.

We also found an imbalance to “what technology offers” and “what older people want”. The imbalance is due to the lack of contextual understanding of the life of older people. This lack of understanding contributes to the barrier of technology’s adoption or even its acceptance [8]. Older adults want their personal preference, rhythms and routines considered [5,7,10]; they want system reciprocity [9], emotional connection [11] and empowerment [12].

What research methods have you used to engage older adults in the design process or otherwise elicit relevant design criteria?

We use co-design methods in engaging with participants. We mostly conduct contextual interviews done in older people’s home where they are comfortable and where they show prized belongings, discuss their relations (through chanced-upon pictures or objects) and their personality through the house itself. We have conducted a long-term trial of a new form of communication device between older adults and their family through the Messaging Kettle. In this long-term trial, we found how over time technology gets individuated and how everyday togetherness is established.

In our methods, we aim for older people to lead in some level by leveraging the control to them in the design process by bringing the activity to their own home, be it an interview or a workshop. We conducted a co-design workshop in two older women’s home, individually, to understand the role of personal Internet of Things in the lives of older people [2]. In this workshop, we found that the participants heavily engaged with the activity when it was their turn to walk the research team around their home as they find ways for the technology to enhance their living situation. On a similar manner of giving control to participants, we also conducted co-design workshops with older authors. In this study, we worked with amateur older creative writers and had them envision future technology and future life [1]. The co- design method pushed forward older people’s strength, passion and creativity that yielded very insightful literary works as output. Overall, the methods we employed so far focus on engaging with older people on a personal level through deep conversations in an environment they are comfortable in, talking about matters that they are passionate about.

What aspects of aging, or what challenges in aging research, will continue to be relevant in decades to come, and why?

Currently, we found that when confronted with new technology, older people see it as a “new language” that needs to be learned and mastered. Living with the technology and the process of becoming accustomed to its use has an impact on how older people see themselves and on how they see the technology’s value. I believe in the future, there will still be some form of “learning” or “relearning” for older people to adopt an adapt the trends on that period but I believe the older generation at that time (like they are now) will manage and find their own balance that they see fit for their lifestyle. It would always seem like a chase – technology advances, the general public keeps up, older people try their best to keep up as well. I think the constant challenge for aging research is that technology-centred innovators would continue to focus on speed, portability and efficiency and more often, these are not important for older people. They want comfort but they value “doing”, the pride in putting an effort and they want to cherish old memories and make new ones with people around them. I think the imbalance (“what technology offers” and “what older people want”) would continue to be a challenge but older people will have more clever ways to cope.

How will applications of the future differ from today for older adults?

With the current technology trend designed for older people with different forms of tracking and monitoring in them, I believe future applications will most likely have similar functions but in more invisible or “natural” forms. I think this will perpetuate because a loved one's concern over someone far away will always remain, especially if that someone is living alone. I think if we are not careful, in guise as security and safety, it will become “normal” to surrender our own privacy and ownership of our everyday on a granular level just so to be looked after remotely. However, other important aspects will also remain the same as the longing to connect and to communicate with family members, the need to relate with others and the drive to engage socially. I think applications for the future would cater to these important social, emotional and personal aspects that would lead people to engage face to face with older adults and not over a screen or a hologram.

What are you hoping to get out of attending this workshop?

As a PhD student, I would be delighted to meet and discuss ageing research especially with those with a wide array of experience in the field. I would love to engage with and absorb the discussion, especially about the relevance of our work and what message we hope to resonate in what we are doing. By being in the workshop, I will be immersed with other researchers doing similar work, and this would definitely broaden my current perspectives on HCI and Ageing studies.

Is there anything else you would like to tell us?

Bibliography

Aloha Hufana Ambe, Margot Brereton, Alessandro Soro, Laurie Buys, Paul Roe. 2019. The Adventures of Older Authors: Exploring Futures through Co-Design Fictions. In 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems Proceedings (CHI 2019), May 4–9, 2019, Glasgow, Scotland, UK. ACM, New York, NY, USA. 16 pages. https://doi.org/10.1145/3290605.3300588

Aloha Hufana Ambe, Margot Brereton, Alessandro Soro, Min Zhen Chai, Laurie Buys, Paul Roe. 2019. Older People Inventing their Personal Internet of Things with the IoT Un-Kit Experience. In 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems Proceedings (CHI 2019), May 4–9, 2019, Glasgow, Scotland, UK. ACM, New York, NY, USA. 15 pages. https://doi.org/10.1145/ 3290605.3300552

Aloha Hufana Ambe, Margot Brereton, Alessandro Soro, and Paul Roe. 2017. Technology Individuation: The Foibles of Augmented Everyday Objects. In Proceedings of the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2017), 6632–6644. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1145/3025453.3025770

Aloha Hufana Ambe and Margot F Brereton. 2015. Reflections from East Asia ’ s Ageing Population : An Interaction Designer’s Challenge. In Asia Pacific Computer-Human Interaction User Experience Symposium (APCHIUX 2015), 26–32. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1145/2846439.2846452

Alessandro Soro, Aloha Hufana Ambe, and Margot Brereton. 2017. Minding the gap: Reconciling human and technical perspectives on the IoT for healthy ageing. Wirel. Commun. Mob. Comput. 2017, (2017). DOI:https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/7439361

References

  1. Aloha Hufana Ambe. 2019. The Adventures of Older Authors: Exploring Futures through Co-Design Fictions. In 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems Proceedings (CHI 2019), May 4–9, 2019, Glasgow, Scotland, UK, 16. DOI:https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1145/3290605.3300588
  2. Aloha Hufana Ambe, Margot Brereton, Alessandro Soro, Min Zhen Chai, Laurie Buys, and Paul Roe. 2019. Older People Inventing their Personal Internet of Things with the IoT Un-Kit Experience. In 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems Proceedings (CHI 2019), May 4–9, 2019, Glasgow, Scotland, UK, 15. DOI:https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1145/ 3290605.3300552
  3. Aloha Hufana Ambe, Margot Brereton, Alessandro Soro, and Paul Roe. 2017. Technology Individuation: The Foibles of Augmented Everyday Objects. In Proceedings of the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2017), 6632–6644. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1145/3025453.3025770
  4. R L Bowen and C S Atwood. 2004. Living and Dying for Sex. Gerontology 50, 5 (2004), 265–290. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1159/000079125
  5. Margot Brereton. 2013. Habituated Objects: Everyday Tangibles That Foster the Independent Living of an Elderly Woman. Interactions 20, 4 (2013), 20–24. DOI:hhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2486227.2486233
  6. Rocio Fernandez-Ballesteros. 2011. Positive ageing: Objective, subjective, and combined outcomes. E-Journal Appl. Psychol. 7, 1 (2011), 22–30.
  7. Daniel López Gómez. 2015. Little arrangements that matter . Rethinking autonomy- enabling innovations for later life. Technol. Forecast. Soc. Chang. 93, (2015), 91–101. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.techfore.2014.02.015
  8. Erik Grönvall and Nervo Verdezoto. 2013. Beyond self-monitoring: Understanding Non-functional Aspects of Home-based Healthcare Technology. Proc. 2013 ACM Int. Jt. Conf. Pervasive ubiquitous Comput. - UbiComp ’13 (2013), 587. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1145/2493432.2493495
  9. Bjorn Nansen, Frank Vetere, Toni Robertson, John Downs, Margot Brereton, and Jeannette Durick. 2014. Reciprocal Habituation: A Study of Older People and the Kinect. ACM Trans. Comput. Interact. 21, 3 (2014), 1–20. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1145/2617573
  10. Alessandro Soro, Margot Brereton, and Paul Roe. 2016. Towards an Analysis Framework of Technology Habituation by Older Users. In Proceedings of the 2016 ACM Conference on Designing Interactive Systems (DIS ’16), 1021–1033. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1145/2901790.2901806
  11. Kate Vaisutis, Margot Brereton, Toni Robertson, Frank Vetere, Jeannette Durick, Bjorn Nansen, and Laurie Buys. 2014. Invisible Connections: Investigating Older People’s Emotions and Social Relations Around Objects. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’14), 1937–1940. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1145/2556288.2557314
  12. J. L. Wiles, A. Leibing, N. Guberman, J. Reeve, and R. E. S. Allen. 2012. The Meaning of “Aging in Place” to Older People. Gerontologist 52, 3 (2012), 357–366. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/geront/gnr098
  13. “Old age.” Oxford Reference. Retrieved February 21, 2017 from http://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780198568506.001.0001/acref -9780198568506-e-4834?rskey=7F4W2c&result=4834