Lowering the Threshold: Reconnecting Elderly Users with Assistive Technology Through Tangible Interfaces

  • Suhas Govind JoshiEmail author
  • Heidi Bråthen
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 9754)


In this paper, we discuss tangible interfaces as an alternative to touch-based interfaces and report from a study where we ported traditional screen-based solutions to physical solutions in order to make information more accessible. Our research approach targets the needs of elderly users who struggle with using, or are unable to use, existing touch-based interfaces currently available in municipal care homes. In an attempt to make assistive technology more readily available to this group, we aim to draw on their existing knowledge, competence and habits when designing alternative assistive technology. We present a tangible alternative to an existing touch-based interface, and discuss how tangible interfaces can help assistive technology become more available and familiar, thereby lowering the threshold for use and making information more accessible.


Tangible interfaces Assistive technology Elderly users 


  1. 1.
    Spreicer, W.: Tangible interfaces as a chance for higher technology acceptance by the elderly. In: Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Computer Systems and Technologies. ACM (2011)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Culén, A.L., Bratteteig, T.: Touch-screens and elderly users: a perfect match? In: ACHI 2013, The Sixth International Conference on Advances in Computer-Human Interactions (2013)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Joshi, S.G.: Designing for experienced simplicity. Why analytic and imagined simplicity fail in design of assistive technology. Int. J. Adv. Intell. Syst. 8(3&4), 324–338 (2015)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Gamberini, L., et al.: Eldergames project: an innovative mixed reality table-top solution to preserve cognitive functions in elderly people. In: 2nd Conference on Human System Interactions, 2009. HSI 2009. IEEE (2009)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    de la Guía, E., Lozano, M.D., Penichet, V.R.: Cognitive rehabilitation based on collaborative and tangible computer games. In: 2013 7th International Conference on Pervasive Computing Technologies for Healthcare (PervasiveHealth). IEEE (2013)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Iversen, T.R., Joshi, S.G.: Exploring spatial interaction in assistive technology through prototyping. Procedia Manuf. 3, 158–165 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Häikiö, J., et al.: Touch-based user interface for elderly users. ACM (2007)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Cho, M.E., Kim, M.J.: Characterizing the interaction design in healthy smart home devices for the elderly. Indoor Built Environ. 23(1), 141–149 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Braun, V., Clarke, V.: Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qual. Res. Psychol. 3(2), 77–101 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Al Mahmud, A., et al.: Designing social games for children and older adults: Two related case studies. Entertainment Comput. 1(3), 147–156 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Blackler, A., Mahar, D., Popovic, V.: Older adults, interface experience and cognitive decline. In: Proceedings of the 22nd Conference of the Computer-Human Interaction Special Interest Group of Australia on Computer-Human Interaction. ACM (2010)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Marques, T., Nunes, F., Silva, P., Rodrigues, R.: Tangible interaction on tabletops for elderly people. In: Anacleto, J.C., Fels, S., Graham, N., Kapralos, B., Saif El-Nasr, M., Stanley, K. (eds.) ICEC 2011. LNCS, vol. 6972, pp. 440–443. Springer, Heidelberg (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Hornecker, E., Buur, J.: Getting a grip on tangible interaction: a framework on physical space and social interaction. In: Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. ACM (2006)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of InformaticsUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

Personalised recommendations