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torrens-g-notes-ALT2012-1st DMU Assisted Living Technologies workshop.pdf (1.9 MB)

Rebranding of assistive technology: towards social acceptance of AT products

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posted on 2014-05-15, 12:58 authored by George TorrensGeorge Torrens
This lecture draws upon 25 years experience working with people who have impairments and live with disability. The lecture highlights the scope of the issues facing those with impairment or disability within current UK society; the challenges facing designers in this field relating to user acceptance of AT products provided; and, the associated stigma. The reasons behind the lack of social acceptance for Assistive Technology (AT) products are explored through values, beliefs and doctrines. The context of AT products are defined within a user-centred new product development (NPD) process. The viewpoint of the user, associated stakeholders and a wider UK society are described, along with their associated preferences. The generic mechanisms of perception and emotional response to a product are discussed and mapped onto the given process. The semantics of words images and forms are shown to be critical influences on the perception of an individual and society. The lecture provides an example process and design tools that has been practically applied through many successful AT product developments. Further examples of current Finalist student product designs will demonstrate some of the principles described. The process described uses a combination of conventional evidenced-based NPD alongside specific methods of the manipulation of perception and semantic meaning. Design tools such as value web-diagrams, technology footprint, iconography and product DNA are demonstrated within the NPD examples. In conclusion, the expansion of the market is discussed and demonstrated through changing perceptions and responses to an AT-focused product using alternative words and forms to emphasise ‘enhanced living’.



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TORRENS, G., 2012. Rebranding of assistive technology: towards social acceptance of AT products. Presented at: ALT2012, 1st DMU Assisted Living Technologies Workshop, 21st November 2012, De Montfort University, Leicester.


ViR.AL Research Group De Montfort University

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This was presented at ALT2012.


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