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Assistive technology

An interactive, touch screen based, robot-mounted information tool can be developed to support healthcare needs of older people.

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Who is your idea designed for and how does it enable older adults to live their best possible life by preventing falls?

This computing device is meant to support medication management as an example of a complex self-care task in older adults.


More than 62% of Nigerians who suffer from multiple chronic conditions may require managing multiple complex self-care tasks including medications (1). Inability to safely manage medications and perform self-care activities often is a major reason for transfer to an aged care facility (2). Over time, with the tilting of demographic balance and shortage of caregivers, older people may face the tension between increasing cognitive and physical limitations requiring dependence on one hand and desire to maintain independence on the other. Creating technologies to automate assistance for older people is a rapidly growing field (3, 4), however, challenges still remain. Many of those challenges can be attributed to older people’s relationship with technology and its usability. Often, declining visual and auditory capabilities, slurred speech, shaky stiff fingers and other challenges limit the use of existing desktop or mobile phone applications (5–7). Human-computer interaction studies have found touch screen based interfaces that make the interaction simple, directed and goal oriented can offer a potential alternative to address some of these challenges for older people (8).

Other important challenges have been identified as apathy and sustaining older people’s interest in executing self care tasks over longer periods. Increasing physical limitations and social isolation could be an important factor for dampening their motivation. To address this challenge we looked towards the growing field of social robotics. Robots have also been shown to make interaction with computers interesting, engaging and personalized, and to successfully engage older users (9). Robots also offer a unique opportunity to add an interpersonal element to inform, empower and support older users and also leverage formation of an affective or social relationship(10). Not only can they navigate, track, identify and invite users to interact but also serve as an extension of the remote caregiver through tele-presence. As shown in Figure 1, just as touch screens extend usability of standard computers, the information presentation capabilities of a touch screen based user interface can be extended on a robotic platform for successfully engaging older people.

5 who suffer from multiple chronic conditions may require managing multiple complex self-care tasks including medications (1). Inability to safely manage medications and perform self-care activities often is a major reason for transfer to an aged care facility (2). Over time, with the tilting of demographic balance and shortage of caregivers, older people may face the tension between increasing cognitive and physical limitations requiring dependence on one hand and desire to maintain independence on the other. Creating technologies to automate assistance for older people is a rapidly growing field (3, 4), however, challenges still remain. Many of those challenges can be attributed to older people’s relationship with technology and its usability. Often, declining visual and auditory capabilities, slurred speech, shaky stiff fingers and other challenges limit the use of existing desktop or mobile phone applications (5–7). Human-computer interaction studies have found touch screen based interfaces that make the interaction simple, directed and goal oriented can offer a potential alternative to address some of these challenges for older people (8).

Other important challenges have been identified as apathy and sustaining older people’s interest in executing self care tasks over longer periods. Increasing physical limitations and social isolation could be an important factor for dampening their motivation. To address this challenge we looked towards the growing field of social robotics. Robots have also been shown to make interaction with computers interesting, engaging and personalized, and to successfully engage older users (9). Robots also offer a unique opportunity to add an interpersonal element to inform, empower and support older users and also leverage formation of an affective or social relationship(10). Not only can they navigate, track, identify and invite users to interact but also serve as an extension of the remote caregiver through tele-presence. 

How long has your idea existed?

  • 0-3 months

This idea emerged from

  • A student collaboration

Tell us about your work experience:

I am a library, archival and information studies student in the university of Ibadan.

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Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Joy!

Thank you for sharing your idea.

What are the next steps to get your idea off the ground?