Tangible UI supporting storytelling among older users

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During my stay as a visiting researcher at CICESE in Ensenada (Mexico), I worked with a group of master students to run a study on the design of tangible interfaces for older users. We wanted to understand how technology may encourage people to read more and or to create/share narratives.

We identified that although many older adults enjoy sharing narratives during ‘tertulias’ (informal but periodic social gatherings), these are both limited in space and time. Furthermore, in Mexico, little efforts have aimed to promote spaces and programmes for the creation of narratives and to enable individuals to share them.

We collaborated with members of a tertulia in Ensenada following a user-centered design methodology and rapid contextual design techniques (including participatory design sessions, interviews, observation, and scenario design) to understand how technology could support and augment their social storytelling practices. We found that they wanted to share narratives but more importantly, they were more excited about using technology to record and broadcast the discussions they held during these social gatherings.

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 16.43.00This collaboration led to the design of a low fidelity prototype of Tertulibro, an interactive device that looks like a book and integrates physical and digital media to help members of tertulias to share their discussions and narratives in a natural way. Our little study was reported by the students in a short paper and our findings suggest that fostering storytelling practices among older users (which has been associated to cognitive and physical wellbeing) is positively associated to the creation of local/distributed social environments for sharing discourse.

Peña, O., Ortega, D., Barreras, E., Balestrini, M., & Tentori, M. (2014, November). Integration of physical and digital media to allow older adults collectively share narratives during reading groups. In Proceedings of the 5th Mexican Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (p. 53). ACM.

About Mara Balestrini

Mara Balestrini is Human Computer Interaction (HCI) expert and technology strategist.

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