You are my Sunshine

We found that the theme of establishing new communication channels between residents and their families would be of value to both parties. During our research we observed that the residents very much looked forward to hearing from or seeing their family. However, there appeared to be a communication gap. The family seemed to lead a very busy life which makes it difficult for them to come and visit the elderly. They also use different communication tools to keep up with this fast pace – communication channels that the elderly is not familiar with. This makes it difficult to communicate and can create a feeling of guilt since the elderly is waiting on the family to contact them – they have a lot of time on their hands.

Creating a new communication channel between family and the elderly.

Design Process

  • Field Research – visiting the elderly home to observe the environment and to detect the needs of the resident
  • Analysing problems and needs
  • Making a storyboard and rough prototype
  • Usability testing with the prototype
  • Making final scenario
  • Video prototyping

How does it work?
We created two different interfaces – one especially for the family and a different one for the elderly.
The solution for the family involves an interactive refrigerator. Each family member has a magnet displaying their image. For example, when the grandmother sends the granddaughter a message, her magnet will light up, indicating that she has received a post. The fridge-screen will be turned on when the granddaughter places her magnet on the lower part of the fridge. She can, by tapping the pictures on the screen, see her grandmothers message and choose how to reply. A four-year old can for instance choose to reply by drawing on the fridge and thereby sending grandmother a drawing.

The family can also choose to send a picture, a letter or a postcard. The postcard function is like a Facebook ‘poke’ – it has a pre-defined message you can send to get attention or to give a ‘yes, I see you. Talk to you later’-hint.

The grandmother also has the postcard- and the letter-option, metaphors she is familiar with, but not the drawing- and photo-option. She can receive these but will not use these options herself – therefore we did not include them in her Frame interface. The Frame guides her through her communication options and holds her hand through creating and receiving messages.