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A system design to support outside activities of older adults using smart urban objects



During outside activities, elderly people encounter different challenges than young people. Those difficulties impede their motivation to pursue outside activities. To counter this problem from a human-computer interaction perspective, we propose a support system for seniors to improve their motivation and subjective safety while undertaking outside activities by coordinating smart urban objects. Drawing from an extensive empirical requirements analysis, we identify typical barriers experienced by seniors for which networked smart urban objects may provide assistance. We discuss a conceptual description of an activity support system: the system aggregates user profile data with information about the urban space to suggest possible activities, the elderly user chooses an activity and receives navigational assistance to increase their motivation and feeling of safety while undertaking the chosen activity. Finally, we discuss our approach regarding challenges such as user autonomy, privacy and real-world deployments, which need to be considered in future implementation and evaluation phases of the system.
Julian Fietkau, Laura Stojko (2020): A system design to support outside activities of older
adults using smart urban objects. In: Proceedings of the 18th European Conference on
Computer-Supported Cooperative Work: The International Venue on Practice-centred
Computing on the Design of Cooperation Technologies - Exploratory Papers, Reports of
the European Society for Socially Embedded Technologies (ISSN 2510-2591), DOI:
A system design to support outside
activities of older adults using smart
urban objects
Julian Fietkau, Laura Stojko
Universität der Bundeswehr München,
Abstract. During outside activities, elderly people encounter different challenges than
young people. Those difficulties impede their motivation to pursue outside activities. To
counter this problem from a human-computer interaction perspective, we propose a
support system for seniors to improve their motivation and subjective safety while
undertaking outside activities by coordinating smart urban objects. Drawing from an
extensive empirical requirements analysis, we identify typical barriers experienced by
seniors for which networked smart urban objects may provide assistance. We discuss a
conceptual description of an activity support system: the system aggregates user profile
data with information about the urban space to suggest possible activities, the elderly user
chooses an activity and receives navigational assistance to increase their motivation and
feeling of safety while undertaking the chosen activity. Finally, we discuss our approach
regarding challenges such as user autonomy, privacy and real-world deployments, which
need to be considered in future implementation and evaluation phases of the system.
Copyright 2020 Julian Fietkau and Laura Stojko. DOI: 10.18420/ecscw2020_ep07
This paper is licenced under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International
Licence. To view a copy of this licence, visit:
1 Introduction
When pursuing activities outside their home, older adults have considerations and
requirements towards the urban space that young, able-bodied people may not be
aware of, such as shorter distances between seating opportunities or the inability to
climb steps. When perceived as safety issues, these requirements may severely
constrain seniors’ outside activities, to the extent that some senior citizens stop
leaving their home at all (Generali Deutschland AG, 2017). In the UrbanLife+
project, we are currently exploring various approaches for encouraging and
fostering self-directed activities outside the home in older adults. This entails
overcoming many kinds of barriers, both objective and subjective.
To increase the safety of outside activities for seniors, we are developing an
activity support system that provides navigational assistance as well as motivational
support based on gamified interactions tailored towards the needs of seniors. This
paper provides some context based on our requirements analysis, summarizes our
system design, provides an example scenario to illustrate the vision behind the idea,
and outlines several challenges that we are facing in ensuring that giving our users’
needs the highest priority. Eventually, our goal is to extract the lessons learned from
designing and deploying our systems into design recommendations for IT systems
aimed at seniors that are deployed in the urban space.
2 Related work
A few research approaches have been made into supporting seniors in outside
navigation. Teipel et al. (2016) give an overview with a focus on systems geared
towards dementia patients. While the target user group’s physical needs are closely
related, our approach differs in that we focus on senior users who do not suffer
from cognitive deficits, at least not to such an extent that it would impair their daily
Krieg-Brückner et al. (2015) provide a review of approaches for augmenting
personal mobility devices, e.g. wheelchairs, using navigation assistance technology,
partly addressing the same problems as the system detailed in this article. The
biggest design difference is that UrbanLife+ aims to install technological assistance
into the public urban space itself, rather than focus on personal devices.
An example of a broadly related project that uses statically placed devices to
assist seniors experiencing the space is presented by Kempter et al. (2014); however,
this and similar systems are only concerned with indoor use.
Another interesting research area related to assistance of daily routines are
workflow management systems, which have seen considerable research in the field
of Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW). These systems manage and
coordinate tasks in business processes by enabling an automated flow of tasks
between the participants and supporting the participants during the activity
accomplishment (Galler, 1997). The task management and workflow coordination
contain similarities to our required support for seniors as they support work
activities by providing information to the employee for orientation, e.g. about the
process status, task description or other involved employees. However, they focus
on different kinds of activities: computer-based activities, indoor activities,
business process related activities. In contrast, we are aiming to provide motivation
and support during outdoor activities for elderly people, while the activities are not
computer-based or business process related.
We believe the outdoor installation of innovative activity support technology for
seniors to be a novel research approach.
An essential aspect of technology development is its high acceptance of the
target group for which the technology is designed. As seniors are a special target
group, there is some research in how to measure and estimate the acceptance by
seniors by applying, for example, a Senior Technology Acceptance & Adoption
Model (STAM) (Renaud and van Biljon, 2008) with the following aspects:
User context: demographic variables (e.g. personal factors like age and
functional ability, social influence)
Perceived usefulness: “extent to which person believes that using the system
will enhance his or her job performance” (Venkatesh et al., 2003)
Intention of Use: influenced by user context and perceived usefulness
Experimentation and Exploration: the first usage of the technology and first
impressions of the ease of use
Ease of learning & use: combination of perceived ease of use and final
decision about ease of use
Confirmed usefulness: usefulness of the technology for the user measured
with the features the user can learn to use
Actual use: predicted by the outcome of experimentations and leads to ease
of learning & use
Renaud and van Biljon (2008) identify the components ease of learning & use
and perceived usefulness as fundamental factors for the elderly’s acceptance or
rejection of new technology. As the paper focusses on mobile phone accceptance,
it still needs to be verified whether or which of those aspects are relevant when it
comes to smart cities and technology in the urban area. However, the STAM may
be used for evaluation purposes of our activity support system with a detailed look
at those two most relevant acceptance factors of technology for elderly.
As UrbanLife+ is a multi-year project involving several institutions, a number
of early and intermediate infrastructural elements are already available or within
planning distance. Chiefly, the project is concerned with the development of smart
urban objects (SUOs), devices that can be installed in public or semi-public urban
spaces and that provide personalized functionality using networked digital
technology (Kötteritzsch et al., 2016; Aleithe et al., 2017; Fietkau et al., 2016;
Zimpel and Hubl, 2019). Utilizing stationary devices in the urban space as opposed
to personal mobile devices means that interaction surfaces can be larger, the
devices cannot be forgotten at home, and retaining battery charge is not an issue.1
Among the devices being developed, there are:
Information radiators: a class of devices that broadcast ambient information
visually, ranging from large touch screens to small LED information devices
(Koch et al., 2017)
Adaptive lights: public light installations that can adjust their color and
brightness according to user preference or other pertinent criteria (Aleithe
et al., 2018)
Smart park benches: public benches for seating that are outfitted with sensors
and actuators to facilitate e.g. advance reservation or subtle nudges to remind
users to make room for approaching seniors (Hubl, 2019; Hubl et al., 2018)
Skowron et al. (2019) provide an overview and categorization method for the
SUO design space.
The approach of using SUOs to increase seniors’ safety was previously
mentioned by Kötteritzsch et al. (2016), who describe interactive information
radiators as one specific category of SUOs, discuss the topic of a comfort zone and
how this zone can be extended. The information radiators are either large
information displays or micro information radiators with LED lightning or sound
signals. Every SUO has a different functionality, but all of them have the aim of
increasing the safety of seniors by giving support and information, consequently
seniors feel more comfortable in the urban area. For example, a macro information
radiator is a large multi-touch-screen containing information about events and
activities in the neighborhood or small information radiators can be positioned at,
for instance, a traffic light where sound is played to attract the senior’s attention
and showing a signal with an arrow pointing towards the next barrier-free
intersection (Kötteritzsch et al., 2016). The small information radiators are flexible
in position and deployment scenarios, while large information screens enable an
overview and easy touch interactions for the senior.
We have also published a proposal for how the SUO network could be
harnessed to provide seniors with a gamified system to promote outside activities
(Fietkau, 2019). We endeavour to keep the repetition of content from that article to
a minimum, but will briefly explain our approach as applicable in sections 4 and 5.
These SUOs are connected to a number of backend services for various tasks:
SUO enumeration and cataloguing, providing accessibility information about the
urban space, storing user profile data etc. This paper proposes an additional activity
support service to model outside activites undertaken by users and to coordinate
pertinent data exchanges between SUOs and other services, whereby seniors can be
1These advantages come with the caveat that UrbanLife+ implements user identification at the
SUOs via Bluetooth, for which users (or their caretakers) are expected to install an app on their
personal mobile device. Users do not need to actively use their device to interact with SUOs, but
merely carry it in their pocket. This approach also allows them to easily switch off the tracking
whenever desired.
supported during their whole activity accomplishment. Details on the design can be
found in section 4.
3 Requirements
The UrbanLife+ project has picked the german city of Mönchengladbach
(population: about 260,000) as its location for analysis and evaluation. The city
was chosen for test deployments within the project and an extensive survey among
seniors was carried out in two specific districts (one within the city center –
Hardterbroich – and one in a more remote and rural area – Rheindahlen). We
defined our target user group as seniors aged 65 and up, who are physically and
mentally capable of planning their own everyday activities in- and outside their
home and then executing their plans. These criteria exclude some seniors, such as
people who are entirely bedridden or who are suffering from advanced cognitive
decline to an extent that they can no longer make their own decisions regarding
their daily activities. The rationale behind these criteria is that systems to assist
outside activities can only benefit users who are capable of deciding on and
undertaking such activites.
Through a cooperation with the local governments, all residents aged 65 or older
and living in those specific areas were contacted – 6,170 surveys were sent out
in total. Of those, 1,302 were complete enough to be evaluated. Subtracting a
small number of non-deliverable surveys and unusable return questionnaires, the
return rate was 21.5%. The survey covered a number of areas including general
demographic data, household and family constellations, health and lifestyle, general
IT use, mobility and activites, mobility barriers and perceived obstacles. See Leukel
et al. (2017) for a detailed description of the study, and the project website2for a
summary of the overall results. General implications of the survey results are further
discussed in other project publications (Schehl et al., 2019; Schehl, 2020; Schehl
and Leukel, 2020). In this article, we will focus on the data items that are directly
relevant for our design, which are the responses on mobility aids and perceived
barriers for outside activity.
Mobility aids: The most common mobility aid used by the target user group is
the walking cane, which is used at least somewhat often by 17% of respondents.
Walking frames are almost as common at 13%. Other mobility aids such as
wheelchairs are less common. While a very strong majority of respondents does
not regularly make use of any mobility aids, the user groups that do use them are
far from negligible, especially when viewed as a whole. This means that systems
aiming to support seniors’ outside activities must incorporate various kinds of
mobility aids into their design and cannot assume that their users will be
able-bodied, capable of climbing steps or steep inclines, and able to fit through
narrow spaces.
Perceived barriers: The survey asked seniors how much several different
possible barriers prevented them from going outside. When looking at the
percentage of people responding “moderately” or higher, the most common
responses in descending order are: 1. lack of public bathrooms (45%) 2. fear of
assault/violence (44%) 3. dangerous footpaths (38%) 4. not enough lighting (34%)
5. too few opportunities to rest (32%) 6. distances too long (26%) and 7. too many
traffic-related dangers (24%). While our system is unable to fix any of the root
causes for these perceptions, they offer valuable guidance for what specific paths
or roads need to offer in order to be perceived as safe. Assisting users in finding
the benches and public toilets that do exist, and taking care to make use of well-lit
public paths wherever possible, are design goals that may help seniors feel more
confident about being active outside their home.
4 Activity support
Taking part in activities outside the home necessarily entails navigating to and
from the location where the activity takes place. To provide pedestrian
navigational assistance to seniors, to account for personal needs on the way (e.g.
stops for rest or toilet use) and to foster motivation by as many available means as
possible, we aim to utilize a wide variety of networked SUOs which are installed
in the urban space, as detailed in section 2. Additionally, data needs to be
aggregated from central sources such as the profile service, the SUO management
service, and the routing service. As this is a centralized task, it makes sense to
implement it as an additional central backend service.
We call this service the activity support service. It is connected to the other
UrbanLife+ backend services (for user profiles, SUO data, routing etc.) and it can
interface with specific SUOs via the SUO management service. Those connections
of the activity service and other components are displayed in the architecture
diagram shown in figure 1, containing the UrbanLife+ backend, SUOs and
personal or connecting devices.
Users of the UrbanLife+ system may view a variety of recommended activities
at any large information radiator. As the SUOs can identify an approaching user
(provided they have installed the project’s mobile app and registered an account or
they carry an iBeacon close to them), personalized recommendations can be
provided from a pool of available activities in- and outside the neighborhood. To
help foster motivation, we also aim to provide a variety of tasks and rewards which
are modeled after the “quest” metaphor commonly found in role-playing video
games, such that users would be enticed to attempt new activities and offers by
small material rewards. See Fietkau (2019) for more details regarding this
approach. For the purpose of this article, it is sufficient to know that the activity
support system is intended as the central infrastructure to facilitate choosing
outside activities, tracking individual progress and managing personal rewards.
When a user has decided to start an activity, the activity support service
coordinates smart urban objects and data from other services to provide as much
Figure 1. Activity support service architecture diagram with connected components..
support as possible to the user while they navigate to the activity through the urban
space, partake in the activity, and then navigate to the next location or back home.
Any action taken by the service is based on a known or suspected intent of the
user. In our model, “intent” is defined as follows:
An intent is a mental plan held by a user for a future activity.
Intents may range from very precise (“be at the dentist at 4:00pm this
Thursday”) to very loose (“spend some time in the sun this weekend”).
Intents can cover different timescales, e.g. “I want to go buy groceries right
now” vs. “I want to check out the new restaurant some time this month”.
An intent may or may not be self-motivated. Some outside activities are
entirely voluntary, such as taking a walk, others (e.g. medical appointments)
can be externally imposed.
One user may have several intents at the same time, each one having a
different priority and urgency.
This intent model was developed iteratively based on internal correspondence
with project members, including experts for elderly care. We started with a
minimal model in which one user would have exactly one goal at any time, and
then gradually expanded to accommodate ways in which we conjectured that real
users would make plans for activities. The intent model has not been specifically
validated and, if found lacking, is subject to change.
The activity support service attempts to determine and model user intents.
Ideally, the user signals their intent to the UrbanLife+ system directly, for example
by tapping “I want to visit the restaurant right now” at the large information
radiator or by sharing their appointments with the UrbanLife+ system via an as-yet
undetermined process. Avenues to infer user intents indirectly may also be
explored, although this will be much more difficult to do reliably and in a way that
does not confuse or patronize the user.
4.1 Example scenario
Margot Nowak3wants to leisurely spend a few hours before dinner. She looks at
the large information radiator at the Hardterbroich seniors home for some ideas for
what to do. She sees that the Textiltechnikum (a local museum) is currently open
and touch-drags the offer into her personal area for immediate use.
The information radiator notifies the activity support service that Margot
intends to visit the Textiltechnikum right now. The service queries the routing
service to determine the path that Margot is likely to take, and then requests a
filtered list of smart urban objects located on or near this path from the central
SUO management service. It calculates her expected arrival time based on her
expected walking speed (determined heuristically or from previous tracking data,
stored by the profile service) and sends an event to all affected SUOs reading
something like “Margot Nowak is on her way to the Textiltechnikum and will
likely pass by on foot in x minutes”. It may also send an email to Textiltechnikum
staff letting them know that a person requiring mobility assistance is on the way.
The SUOs along the way can react to this new event in whichever way they deem
appropriate: smart park benches may start a timely seating reservation process,
lights may adjust themselves to Margot’s needs and preferences, small information
radiators may prepare to show symbols for navigation assistance, etc. Whenever
new information about Margot’s location becomes available, updated events may
be sent – especially if Margot changes her mind about the activity and turns around
to go back home.
Independent of user intents, SUOs may continue to offer their general
functionality, such as small information radiators displaying dynamic warnings for
hazardous areas like steps that get slippery after it has rained.
5 Discussion
Setting aside the technical and organizational challenges in getting the UrbanLife+
platform to a functional stage, we view the evaluation from an HCI perspective as
the most significant challenge. The goal is to strengthen seniors’ participation in
3Margot Nowak is the name of a fictional persona – one of several – which UrbanLife+ uses
for scenarios and usage models. Her demographic data and assistance requirements are an example
for a person living in the senior housing residents in the city where the project is being conducted.
the urban space and to make it easier and safer for them to take part in activities
outside their home. Possible measures for success could be an increase of such
activities, but it would be unrealistic for the scope of UrbanLife+ to perform a wide-
area deployment to allow organic, unsupervised use of the platform. To evaluate
our approach, we instead run long-term deployments of individual SUOs in semi-
public areas in combination with time-limited, closely supervised installations in
public spaces – say, deploying a number of small information radiators along the
street during daylight hours for a few days to perform usability tests. Our specific
constellation of circumstances prompts us to engage with a number of different
Firstly, we need to take care to design for user autonomy and
self-determination. The activity support system aims to assist users and to open up
new possibilites – our intent is to leave all decision making competence in the
users’ hands. Designing all user interactions to respect this principle will be
challenging. For example, users might perceive an arrow that signals them where
to go next as a restriction as opposed to an assistance. Our interactions will need to
be designed and evaluated to ensure that users are always aware that they are free
to change their mind without penalty and to diverge from the provided
recommendations whenever they want.
Within our constraints, we can definitely test the usability and user experience
of the direct user interactions with the technology. However, determining whether
it can have a positive long-term effect is much more difficult. To gauge whether our
platform could actually help seniors be more active outside their home, we intend
to rely mostly on self-reported results from interviews and questionnaires (e.g. “On
a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 meaning “absolutely confident”, how confident do you
feel about outside activities when using this system?”, “On a scale from 1 to 10,
with 10 meaning “absolutely confident”, how confident do you feel about outside
activities when going on your own without technology?”). The reliability of self-
reported data in terms of predicting future behavior is limited. We attempt to bridge
this gap by evaluating users’ observed behavior when interacting with our system
– such as their level of engagement and their willingness to continue using it –
and drawing an inference from increased motivation for repeated use of networked
SUOs for outside activity support to increased motivation for outside activities.
Furthermore, although more of an engineering than a user research problem,
we are faced with the challenge of respecting and protecting our users’ personal
data. The data that users are asked to provide includes not only personal data
commonly considered non-confidential, such as name and age, but also data about
users’ specific physical abilities and needs for assistance. Even though we are not
interested in actual medical data, many users may consider information about their
eyesight or walking abilities (it could be considered “health-adjacent data”)
particularly private. It goes without saying that we follow best practices about
minimizing data collection and that all personal data is deleted as soon as it is no
longer needed or the study has concluded. But beyond that, we also need to design
our systems to minimize the potential for privacy violations. In practical terms, an
important design guideline for UrbanLife+ is that each distributed component of
our system only has access to the minimum required personal information about
each user, as opposed to a naive “every component can access any data” approach.
At the time of writing, implementation work on our system is ongoing and
empirical evaluations are being planned. At the beginning of 2020, we were
planning to perform several short-term deployments of SUO networks in the spring
and summer, which would be combined with long-term SUO installations that are
already in progress. This would give us the opportunity to verify whether the
activity support system can help seniors discover and take part in new outside
activities. Several of our planned experiments would center around the gamified
motivational support described in Fietkau (2019) and will verify the effectiveness
of the activity support system as a matter of course, although we expected to gather
feedback from other evaluations of networked SUOs conducted in the scope of
UrbanLife+ as well.
Regrettably, as of the writing of this article’s final version, the COVID-19
pandemic has rendered most of our plans infeasible. We are currently unable to
ascertain when and how evaluations and observations of our deployments with
senior users in public will be able to be conducted safely. We are exploring new
avenues for validation studies, but it seems certain that evaluations in the final year
of UrbanLife+ will look entirely different than anticipated.
6 Conclusion
In this paper we have given an overview over the UrbanLife+ activity support
system and described some of the research and design challenges we face. The
concept of the presented activity support in this paper contains a central service to
determine and model intents of seniors (a mental plan for a future activity) and
supports the accomplishment of activities by providing information and guidance
through distributed and connected SUOs in the urban area. In our implementation
we respond to the identified challenges by ensuring trust in our service in respect to
personal data handling and by considering an interface, that signals user autonomy
and self-determination to the senior as we do not want our supported guidance to
feel like an obligatory rule. In our evaluations so far, the need and interest for
higher safety of elderly people was consistently confirmed. Whether our activity
support service helps increasing safety feelings of seniors will be evaluated in
upcoming and ongoing deployments, to whatever extent circumstances permit.
As the field of HCI involving seniors grows, we are hopeful for continued
community discourse around the questions discussed herein. We aim to
incorporate current and future best practices into our research.
This work has been supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Germany,
under grant 16SV7443. We thank all project partners for their commitment.
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... Using other smart urban objects as input source, micro information radiators gain their full potential in exible application, subtle interaction and especially in a connected IoT network [9,14]. Several micro information radiators in a network create synergies and enable support for seniors during their whole outdoor stay. ...
... personalization, contextual awareness), our usage scenario calls for a deployment of an information radiator network including various smart urban objects, which can then make use of central backend services such as adaptive routing, prole management, and a database of urban safety features. A detailed overview of the connection between smart urban objects and backend services is provided in [9]. Specic future work concerning micro information radiators for seniors could encompass empirical evaluations of visual and auditory cues. ...
Conference Paper
Senior citizens face challenges during activities in urban space. To help and motivate them pursuing outside activities, we propose a network of (micro and macro) information radiators to increase their feeling of safety. In this paper we first collect guidelines and relevant aspects for the design of micro information radiators. Then we summarize our own experiences from a project designing smart urban objects - particularly giving an overview of design guidelines for input and output interaction of micro information radiators.
... The most important feature of the public spaces is accessibility for all and the other is freedom of action. Therefore, this context creates the possibility of wide interaction of individuals with each other and the possibility of social actions [7]. Restrictions on the use of public space and physical distancing have been key policy measures to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and protect public health. ...
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The impact of physical components of the environment on the sociability of cultural-recreational spaces case study: ABSTRACT The focus of the research is to analyze and evaluate the impact of physical space in the environment as a spatial system on the social interactions of users. The role of the physical components of the environment for the sociability of the environment and the desire to work in spaces is examined. In this research, the physical components of the environment as an independent variable that affect the quality of socialization of physical spaces as a dependent variable. To analyze, the physical environment is considered a socio-behavioral place. In this regard, by recognizing the types of public spaces as a physical environment and recognizing their qualities and functions, we reach the necessity of having cultural-recreational spaces as a platform for the formation of social life. The present research descriptively and analytically examines the sociability of the physical environment as a necessary spatial quality in cultural-recreational spaces, and by recognizing the physical components and sociability activity, analyzes these components in the present case. Data collection was done through questionnaires, interviews, and field observations. The final part of this research shows that security, as the most important environmental quality that results from the impact of components such as confinement and lighting and control and monitoring and visual access, has a direct impact on the sociability of the analyzed sample.
... The concept and the individual parts of our system have been discussed in prior publications, specifically about the requirements analysis and the technical architecture [5], the persuasive design aspect anchored in the gamification research landscape [4], and more detailed guidance on the interaction design of small [16] and large public displays [8] as relevant to this kind of design. The following section nonetheless gives a short design overview. ...
Conference Paper
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Seniors face many challenges in their daily activities regarding mobility and accessibility. We have designed and prototyped a system of networked public displays to support them, particularly regarding outdoor pedestrian navigation. This article describes the process and results of a qualitative evaluation of this prototype system, which was conducted with seven participants, a mixture of older adults and experts on geriatric care. Based on insights gained from these interviews, we provide guidance on the design of outdoor activity support systems for seniors.
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The world’s population is aging and becoming more urbanized. Public space in urban areas is vital for improving the health of the elderly by stimulating social interaction. Many urban design projects are advertised as age-friendly but ignore the real needs of the elderly, especially elderly women, for social interaction in urban public spaces. Insufficient attention is paid to the physical and psychological characteristics of elderly women when shaping public space. This analysis addresses the question: What are the qualities of urban spaces which facilitate health-improving social interaction for elderly women? Methods include a case study in Beijing, field investigation, mapping, and qualitative and quantitative analysis. The survey was carried out in April 2021, and concerned 240 women aged 55–75 years. Results indicate that the social interactions of older women relate to both their physical and psychological situations. Public spaces can positively impact the psychological well-being and social participation of elderly women. Conclusions include insights regarding the relationship between social interaction and well-being among elderly women, as well as proposing a series of principles for shaping public spaces for an age-friendly urban environment.
Technical Report
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Titel des Teilvorhabens: Mensch-Technik-Interaktion mit smarten städtebaulichen Objekten: Entwicklung und Evaluation Zuwendungsempfänger: Universität der Bundeswehr München Förderzeitraum: 01.11.2015 – 31.10.2020 Förderkennzeichen: 16SV7443
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Der urbane Raum wird zunehmend intelligenter. So können Passanten mit Druckknöpfen an Ampelanlagen spielen, um die Rotphase zu überbrücken, Informationstafeln an Bushaltestellen zeigen Verspätungen des Busses an und WLAN-Technologie erlaubt das Erfassen der Bewegung unterschiedlicher Akteure im Raum. Die Vorteile aus dieser Vernetzung, stehen jedoch älteren Personen mit kognitiven oder motorischen Einschränkungen nicht offen. Technologien in der öffentlichen Umgebung beziehen Anforderungen älterer Personen bislang nicht ein. Ältere Personen werden durch die sich rapide ändernden sozialen und technologischen Strukturen von der Teilhabe ausgegrenzt. Wir stellen unseren Ansatz Smarter Städtebaulicher Objekte vor: Gegenstände aus der städtischen Umgebung, welche mit einem digitalen Informationsraum verbunden sind. Darunter fallen u. a. Parkbänke, die jüngere Personen durch Vibration darauf auf ältere Personen mit Bedarf an Sitzplätzen hinweisen, sowie Informationstafeln, die die Aktivitäten in der Nachbarschaft nutzergerecht aufbereiten. Anhand dessen wollen wir zeigen, wie das Gewahrsein im öffentlichen Raum auf die Belange älterer Personen erhöht werden kann.
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The degree to which individuals can accomplish outdoor activity by themselves or require support is an important facet of successful aging. While prior research focuses on participation in outdoor activity, understanding of older adults’ outdoor independence is limited. We adopt an ecological approach to examine the role of individual factors and environmental factors in explaining outdoor independence. Our sample comprised older adults aged 65 + living in a medium-sized city in Germany (N = 1070). The results show that being male, younger, and healthier was positively associated with outdoor independence, while living together was not. Further, outdoor independence decreased with higher levels of perceived environmental barriers. This negative association was moderated such that it was stronger for the less healthy and older participants. Based on our empirical findings, we offer insights for policy makers, urban planners, and community groups to design age-friendly communities and consequently facilitate outdoor independence among older adults.
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The irreversible process of demographic change, especially in Germany, leads to numerous challenges. According to this, research has to face the task to integrate the constantly ageing population into the urban and public space in such a way that there are as few barriers as possible. With the support of digitalization, so-called smart urban objects are being designed in order to do make integration, so that people and the available technology can be used most efficiently. A special ontology has been developed to meet this demand.
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IoT increasingly permeates the public area, e.g., in traffic control and public transport. We propose to equip conventional urban objects with IoT technology to transform them into Smart Urban Objects (SUO's). While there exists some research exploring the potentials, specific solutions to enhance safety for the elderly outdoors are still lacking. The elderly's safety is threatened due to declining physical conditions. As a consequence, the elderly may be excluded from outdoor activities such as participating in major events. Against this backdrop, we design SUOs for adaptive indications of urban hazards, barrier-free passages and for smart reservation of seats to enhance resting possibilities. We report on our solution using Bluetooth technology for remote sensing of older pedestrians serving as input for the objects' adaptive capacities. The SUOs have been installed for test purposes on a major event in a larger German city.
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An important part of older adults' social integration is their involvement in urban life outdoors. While going outdoors contributes to participation and well-being, older adults often avoid to go outdoors because of deteriorating health and individual perceptions of threats to their safe mobility. A particular perceived threat to safety and a crucial barrier to go outdoors is the perception of lacking appropriate seating possibilities. To mitigate this barrier, we introduce an adaptive park bench system as an innovative form of smart urban objects. The system of adaptive park benches seeks to ensure that each pedestrian has available an appropriate seat when necessary. Empty adaptive park benches are particularly appropriate due to an active assistance functionality for sitting down and standing up. We developed an AI based algorithm and validated its effectiveness by conducting a simulation of a use case scenario created with domain experts.
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Internet use is becoming increasingly important for the daily lives of older adults. Simultaneously, the range of online activities is also broadening. However, previous research in technology adoption mainly focuses on Internet use in general, and only few studies pay attention to various online activities that older adults engage in. Exploration of factors explaining specific online activities is still limited. To bridge this gap, we examined the role of socio-demographic characteristics and perceived behavioral control (PBC) in predicting informational, social, and instrumental online activities in a sample of 1,222 participants (age 65+). Our results show that those who were younger, with higher education, and with higher PBC were more likely to perform all online activities, while men had higher odds than women of performing informational and instrumental but not social online activities. Cultural participation was a positive predictor for all online activities except online banking. For informational online activities, the effect of PBC was moderated such that it was weaker for those with higher education. Based on our empirical results, we contribute to the literature a nuanced understanding of older adults' Internet use.
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IoT technology is a key driver for building smart city infrastructure. The potentials for urban management problems requiring process control and allocation mechanisms has long been acknowledged. However, up to now the potentials of equipping urban objects with sensors, information processing capability, and actuators to enable adaptation to pedestrians' individual needs have not yet been exploited. The objective of our research is to design smart urban objects that enhance usability and safety of the urban space for pedestrians. We report on our conceptual design for an IoT platform that connects the novel smart urban object adaptive park bench with an adaptive light system to actively support pedestrians in the urban environment, in particular senior citizens with handicaps.
Conference Paper
Im Rahmen des Verbundprojektes UrbanLife+ verfolgen wir einen Gamification-Ansatz, nach dem das spielerische Gestaltungsmittel der Quest als Grundlage dafür verwendet wird, Senioren zur Teilhabe an ihrem urbanen Umfeld zu motivieren, indem ihnen konkrete Vorschläge für Aktivitäten gemacht werden, welche mit einem Belohnungssystem verbunden sind. Das Gesamtsystem befindet sich derzeit noch in der Entwurfsphase. Eine Analyse der Anforderungen der Zielgruppe einschließlich einer umfassenden Befragung ist im Rahmen des Gesamtprojekts erfolgt. Dieser Beitrag beschreibt den aktuellen Planungsstand des Gamification-Systems sowie die dafür unmittelbar relevanten sonstigen Projektergebnisse und diskutiert die Herangehensweise.
The Internet has the potential to enable older adults to live a socially active and self-determined life. An important facet of active aging is participation in outdoor activity. Previous research has shown that older Internet users participated more frequently in outdoor activities. However, understanding of how Internet use can influence the behavior of going outdoors is still limited. To bridge this gap, the goal of this study was to examine whether informational Internet use specific to opportunities and offerings in the city facilitates participation in outdoor activity. Primary survey data from individuals aged 65+ living in a medium-sized city in Europe (N = 1,117) was analyzed. The results show that Internet as an information source predicted community activity for participants living in urban neighborhoods but not in a rural neighborhood. Further, informational Internet use predicted cultural activity for residents living in all three neighborhoods. The results thus emphasize the positive effect of informational Internet use on behavior through providing older adults with useful information about opportunities and offerings available in their neighborhood. Taken together, the findings provide a rationale for the development of digital neighborhood platforms and interventions targeted at older adults’ digital skills.