The simplification of complex interactions for more inclusive social communication technologies (position paper)

Holland, Simon and Holland, Caroline (2005). The simplification of complex interactions for more inclusive social communication technologies (position paper). In: HCI and the Older Population, 5 Sep 2005, Edinburgh, UK.


New technologies, especially smart homes and mobile and ubiquitous technologies have the potential to foster improved quality of life in the older population. Some anticipated benefits are linked to specific applications in areas such as home automation, communication, shopping and health. However, some valuable potential benefits lie in building and sustaining relationships with remote extended family, particularly children and grandchildren, as well as with carers, neighbours and friends. Communication with geographically remote family can play an important role in helping to sustain autonomy, inclusion and independence. Reduction in isolation and improved participation have the potential to improve or sustain quality of life, but in addition they can lead to a reduction in vulnerability and sustained physical health. Another benefit can be to reassure adult children about the viability of their parent's independent living.

Broadband "always-on" communications are potentially particularly useful tools in sustaining geographically remote relationships with extended family, as they can support many useful kinds of interaction, using modalities such as voice, video, pervasive annotation, selection, and remote concierging. Unfortunately, many possible new interactions are currently complex to manage, ruling them out on grounds of poor acceptability, accessibility and usability. However, our hypothesis is that a new interaction framework that combines social and technical components could be used to simplify many interactions of the kinds noted above sufficiently to the point where they would be rendered acceptable, accessible and usable. This paper outlines plans to test such a framework.

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