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Senior Citizens and Smartphones: Identifying User Segments in Urban Middle-Class India

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Design in the Era of Industry 4.0, Volume 1 (ICORD 2023)


Despite rapidly growing smartphone ubiquity, technology has not been designed and developed accounting for the abilities, perceptions, and preferences of an ageing population. The effects of ageing include cognitive and physiological decline; this, along with habits ingrained over a lifetime, limits existing technological devices’ usability for them. As life expectancy increases, senior citizens become increasingly relevant smartphone users. The interaction between the elderly and smartphones has received limited empirical scrutiny, particularly in urban middle-class India. This study critically examines how the elderly in metropolitan middle-class India interacts with their smartphones through first-hand user research. We conducted twelve online and three hybrid interviews with fifteen senior citizens and analysed the data using six codes: (a) Frequency of use of/amount of time spent on the smartphone; (b) Breadth of smartphone use-cases; (c) Technology exposure/smartphone-savviness; (d) Comfort/confidence with smartphones; (e) Self-reported receptivity towards new ideas and technological interventions and (f) Proclivity to take action to adopt new ideas and technological interventions in practice. We then identify user segments based on their mobile phone usage, pain points, expectations, and outlook towards technology in general. Five distinct user segments emerge from the research. We designate them as (1) ’Bold Bhoomika’, (2) ‘Practical Prakash’, (3) ’Enthusiastic Eklavya’, (4) ‘Hesitant Hari’ and (5) ‘No-thanks Naina.’ This study demonstrates the variety and nuances of smartphones’ roles in the lives of the urban middle-class Indian elderly. While the exact technological tool (in this case, smartphones) in question may change with time, these broad segments would remain a relevant reference framework, aiding designers, engineers, technologists and others who build solutions for Indian elderly users.

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We would like to thank all interviewees for their valuable input.

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Correspondence to Pragnya Ramjee .

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Ramjee, P., Rathi, A., Banerjee, S. (2023). Senior Citizens and Smartphones: Identifying User Segments in Urban Middle-Class India. In: Chakrabarti, A., Singh, V. (eds) Design in the Era of Industry 4.0, Volume 1. ICORD 2023. Smart Innovation, Systems and Technologies, vol 343. Springer, Singapore.

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