Personal and Ubiquitous Computing

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 127–144 | Cite as

Design and evaluation of a smart home voice interface for the elderly: acceptability and objection aspects

  • François PortetEmail author
  • Michel Vacher
  • Caroline Golanski
  • Camille Roux
  • Brigitte Meillon
Original Article


Smart homes equipped with ambient intelligence technology constitute a promising direction to enable the growing number of elderly to continue to live in their own home as long as possible. However, this calls for technological solutions that suit their specific needs and capabilities. The Sweet-Home project aims at developing a new user friendly technology for home automation based on voice command. This paper reports a user evaluation assessing the acceptance and fear of this new technology. Eight healthy persons between 71 and 88 years old, 7 relatives (child, grandchild or friend) and 3 professional carers participated in a user evaluation. During about 45 min, the persons were questioned in co-discovery in the Domus smart home alternating between interview and wizard of Oz periods followed by a debriefing. The experience aimed at testing four important aspects of the project: voice command, communication with the outside world, domotics system interrupting a person’s activity, and electronic agenda. Voice interface appeared to have a great potential to ease daily living for elderly and frail persons and would be better accepted than more intrusive solutions. By considering still healthy and independent elderly people in the user evaluation, an interesting finding that came up is their overall acceptance provided the system does not drive them to a lazy lifestyle by taking control of everything. This particular fear must be addressed for the development of smart homes that support daily living by giving them more ability to control rather than putting them away from the daily routine.


Voice interface Smart home Ubiquitous computing User evaluation Gerontechnology 



The authors would like to thank the participants (seniors, relatives and carers) who accepted to perform this experiment and kindly gave their time and Nicolas Bonnefond for being such a good wizard. Thanks are extended to Thierry Chevalier for his help in defining the protocol and to our reviewer for checking the English of the early draft. This work is supported by the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR-09-VERS-011).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • François Portet
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michel Vacher
    • 1
  • Caroline Golanski
    • 2
  • Camille Roux
    • 2
  • Brigitte Meillon
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratoire d’Informatique de Grenoble UMR 5217UJF-Grenoble 1/Grenoble-INP /UPMF-Grenoble 2/CNRSGrenobleFrance
  2. 2.MULTICOMFloralis - UJF FilialeGièresFrance

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