Social interactions among elderly people

Professor Alessio Malizia has been awarded a research grant for his research project entitled CallingYou (RingerDeg) – tangible user interfaces supporting social interactions among elderly people. This 1,000,000 NOK (£100k) project is funded by the Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Science.

The project duration is 24 months and started in Autumn 2017.

The research team is: PI - Prof. Weiqin Chen (Universal Design) Oslo and Akershus University, Co-I Professor Alessio Malizia (School of Creative Arts) University of Hertfordshire and Co-I Professor Kai Olsen (HCI) Molde University College.

Social interaction is essential for the mental health and general wellbeing of elderly people. Information and communication technology (ICT) tools such as social media, gaming application, etc. have been developed to improve our social lives. However, older people struggle keeping their social lives active using these technologies and face the risks of feeling lonely and socially excluded. At the same time many of the previous contact points to other people, such as the local shop or bank office have disappeared.

Research has shown that there is significant correlation between loneliness and chronic conditions in elderly people and social interactions play an important role in reducing isolation. In this project, we try to address loneliness and social exclusion issues by introducing a smartphone application (app), CallingYou. A low fidelity prototype has been developed and tested with four elderly. The preliminary results show that CallingYou is easy to learn and use. The participants liked the app and think it would be beneficial for people who lack of social interactions.