Designing in social benefits

It is a widely recognized fact that population ageing is progressing rapidly and this phenomenon is expected to continue in the next decades. The resulting demographic change is the driving force behind many current design challenges, including social isolation and loneliness which the older population is prone to. Although Inclusive Design has traditionally focused on enabling people to live independently, it seems that there are benefits to be gained from promoting social interaction through design. This paper details the results of a study of older adults‟ experiences with technology, particularly during the very early stages of interaction known as Out-of-Box Experience, from product acquisition through to first use. The Technology Biography method was adapted and conducted among twenty-four participants, grouped into 50-64 years old, 65-75 years old and over 76 years old. The findings indicate that even though older people value being able to perform tasks for themselves, they often enlist others as a means to engage in social interaction. This has strong implications for Inclusive Design, as designing social benefits into product experience could encourage the uptake of technology among older adults.