Age Labs

Age Labs research the particular design needs of older people, as well as developing aids so that young researchers can feel what it’s like. We’ve bundled together some brilliant examples in one post here.
In the UK, SiDE’s Transport team monitor older driver behaviour in a lab, using sensors like eye-tracking goggles and heart-rate monitors. A modified Peugeot iOn can monitor drivers’ concentration, stress levels and driving habits. The objective is new technology that will instil confidence in drivers over 65 and keep them safely on the road for longer.
One example is a tailored SatNav that takes the least stressful, safest route for the driver, rather than the fastest. It avoids major roads and right turns, and shows pictures of key landmarks along the way to help drivers keep track of where they are.
In the USA, the MIT Age Lab has developed a suit – AGNES that when worn by a researcher or designer, has been calibrated to approximate the motor and visual skills, flexibility, dexterity and strength of a person in their mid-70s.

MIT Age Lab have also evaluated driving technologies to assess what works for older drivers.

Charlie and Marie: a tale of ageing

This short animation tells the story of Charlie and Marie, a couple ageing in the UK today. It visualises the significant events in their life after retirement and how they interact with different state services at these times.

The aim of the animation was to stimulate new and more holistic ways of thinking about older people and their experience of services, amongst local government and partners – who may often operate quite separately from one another.

The animation is based on 10 ethnographic studies and a series of interviews with older people around the UK. It was developed by the Young Foundation as part of their Ageing Well Innovation Series in 2010.

Meals with Mates

MealswithMatesLogo90,000 South Australians eat and live alone. Research tells us that eating alone is not only an isolating experience which increases feelings of loneliness, it also leads to poor eating habits which reduces older people’s nutritional intake and weakens immune systems.

In 2011 The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI) began prototyping Meals with Mates, a series of gatherings of like-minded older people over good food, to try and counteract this trend. Each gathering is unique – it might be based on a fondness for a certain type of food, a TV show or a shared experience, and it may be hosted in an older person’s home or a local pub or restaurant – but all build social connections and avoid older people eating alone. Local conveners (volunteers) find new hosts, and connect older people with similar interests to form new gatherings.

Meals with Mates is one of six prototypes based on co-design principles, and launched by TACSI to deliver ‘great living’ in South Australia.

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