Co-designing ambient assisted living (AAL) environments: unravelling the situated context of informal dementia care
Keywords: Dementia, Alzheimer’s, assistive technology, intelligent technology, ambient assisted living, informal care, caregivers, participatory design, co-design, prototyping.
Overview of Research
Ambient assisted living (AAL) aims to help older persons “age-in-place” and manage everyday activities using intelligent and pervasive computing technology. AAL research, however, has yet to explore how AAL might support or collaborate with informal care partners (ICPs; see Figure 1), such as relatives and friends, who play important roles in the lives and care of persons with dementia (PwDs). In a multi-phase co-design process (Figure 2) with six (6) ICPs, we envisioned how AAL (e.g., COACH – Figure 3) could be situated to complement their care. We used our co-designed “caregiver interface” artifacts (Figure 4) as triggers to facilitate envisioning of AAL support and unpack the situated, idiosyncratic context within which AAL aims to assist. Our findings suggest that AAL should be designed to support ICPs in fashioning “do-it-yourself” solutions that complement tacitly improvised care strategies, and enable them to trial, observe, and adapt solutions over time. In this way, an ICP could decide which activities to entrust to AAL support, when (i.e., scheduled or spontaneous) and how a system should provide support (i.e., using personalized prompts based on care experience), and when adaptations to system support are needed (i.e., based alerting patterns and queried reports).
Figure 1. Our research question: how do ICPs envision specifying, delegating, and obtaining support from an AAL system in providing support/care to a PwD? (click to enlarge)
Figure 3. An animated video of COACH , used in this study to trigger the co-design process with participants. The video demonstrates how an AAL system might guide a PwD in independently completing an activity (i.e., hand washing) while his ICP is freed up to perform other tasks (click to enlarge).
Figure 4. Image of a paper prototype co-designed and evaluated (in Phase 3) with participants, illustrating how we explored with participants how they envisioned specifying and delegated activity support to an AAL system (click to enlarge).
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Amy Hwang, University of Toronto