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Special issue on reimagining interfaces for older adults

Nicol, Emma and Dunlop, Mark D and Treviranus, Jutta (2016) Special issue on reimagining interfaces for older adults. International Journal of Mobile Human Computer Interaction, 8 (2). v-x. ISSN 1942-390X

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Abstract

According to the Population Reference Bureau: "The world's population is growing and aging. Very low birth rates in developed countries, coupled with birth rate declines in most developing countries, are projected to increase the population ages 65 and over to the point in 2050 when it will be 2.5 times that of the population ages 0-4. This is an exact reversal of the situation in 1950.". In parallel, recent years have seen mobile technologies having a massive impact on work and social life, for example in May 2014 ComScore estimated that 60% of total digital media time was spent on mobile platforms. Older adults should not be disadvantaged in using mobile technologies for professional, social and lifestyle usage as, increasingly, these are central to supporting work, domestic administration, community involvement and personal independence. Unfortunately, natural ageing processes can interfere with mobile technology usage. The normal ageing process typically involves a decline in visual and auditory abilities together with a decline in working memory, selective attention, and motor control. For example, many people in their 40s start to have vision changes that affect their near focus while movement can be both slower and less accurate from the mid-60s onwards. Many of the physical features of mobile devices are not accommodating of these changing physical characteristics. It has also been highlighted that many older adults will experience problems with small buttons that have poor feedback, complex menu structures, overall device size and difficulty in reading small on-screen text – all common features of the most widely available mobile devices. Where input is concerned, older people have been shown to be slower in text entry studies and studies with older adults have shown concerns about "fat fingers" since the early days of personal digital assistants (PDAs).