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Empathy-led Service Design: Imagining Future Health Smart Homes through Co-Design with Older Adults
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This project investigates the development of a service for Health Smart Homes (HSHs) from the perspective of Baby Boomers (people born between 1946 and 1964) living in Edmonton, Canada. A Health Smart Home is a home that has been designed for people with special needs employing technology for monitoring and assistance purposes through mobile or networked devices. In order to help people to better manage their healthcare, improve their health, and provide access to health support at home, this project explores the convergence between strategic design and design
for services as a way to imagine and identify key factors for the development of future HSHs.
Baby Boomers are the group, within the larger spectrum of older adults, that were selected for this study. These are people who were born between 1946 and 1964, currently aged 55–73. The baby boomer generation makes up a substantial portion of the world’s population, especially in developed nations such as Canada, with 29% (Martel & Ménard, 2011). Baby Boomers have different experiences with new technology, and different expectations than previous generations of older adults (Ontario Association of Community Care Access Centres, 2013). As such, service and
product designs must be designed to their needs and expectations. More extensive collaboration with all stakeholders is required in the design of smart home solutions focused on health support at home (Vacha & Kandusova, 2018).
This human-centered design project, therefore, investigates such opportunities in order to gain a better understanding of future users of HSHs. It takes a participatory research approach that includes expert interviews, contextual interviews and a co-design workshop with Baby Boomers. Employing a mixed qualitative method approach provides insight into Baby Boomers’ perceptions, interests, and satisfaction with regard to future living scenarios. These activities helped to facilitate user engagement, better explain their experiences, and generate service concepts. The broad aim of this study is to illustrate the capacity of design to better understand users’ experiences through more empathic collaboration, and to articulate the role of
designers in helping researchers and organizations to imagine future HSH scenarios.
The study provides two sets of design recommendations. Apart from providing guidance for conducting interdisciplinary research working on HSH projects, my findings and recommendations for design of HSHs may be used to inform the design
of future HSH to be more helpful, effective and appealing for future older adults. This Empathy-led Service Design: Imagining Future HSHs through Co-Design with Older Adults work should be of interest to researchers, designers, industry, and decision-makers, especially smart home service providers, with regards to technology adoption.
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- Research Material