Compare with their peers, senior center participant have higher level of health, social interaction, and life satisfactions. Senior center serves as a network connecting older adults to community service that help them to stay healthy and independent.
Our goal was to find a way to optimize their participation in the senior center or encourage individual's activity to achieve a more successful aging.
Based on our thorough research, we found early stage successful aging is extremely important for senior citizen. With the right training meeting both their mental and physical health needs, it is the most effective phrase to help them maintain and improve their cognitive function. Our design bridges brain function with body movement, and encourages the social aspect of game activity.
The set of tangible blocks creates a platform allowing senior cognitive training to be conducted in various ways, including the capability to train different parts of the brain function and related physical movement. The digital display allows developer to create games with specific graphic and motion; the combination of individual blocks stimulates the interaction in both visible and tangible ways; and the set of 9 blocks allow numerous combinations for increasing possibilities.
The Ludus Cubus, was designed in target to senior citizens at their early aging process, and don't have significant disease. It is a concept design of a set of 9 tangible interactive blocks designed specifically for elderly people to play games while improving their cognitive functions. User could play individually or in a collaborative environment. When game begins, based upon the selected game, relevant graphics display on individual blocks; as each individual block connects in the desired way, the clock illuminate as feedback.
The challenge was from the CHI2015 theme "crossing": crossing the boundaries for meaningful new creations and possibilities. To create a design solution that enable people who are a new and completely unexplored user group in any country to appropriate things and technologies around them. From the theme, our team was inspired to design for successful aging. We did much research to understand key points within this topic, and defined our targeted user group as aging is a long process with very complex involvements.
In order to understand the most compelling needs of successful aging, our team conducted a thorough research including: visits to senior center to observe activity engagement, interview with center manager and visitors, interview with neuroscientist on campus (Professor at the IU Psychology & Brain Science department, one of the top 10 department in the field within U.S.), and literature review on relevant papers.
After participating in the monthly "brain game" activity at senior center, our team defined two major short comes of the cognition training activity provided at the senior center. First, the participants engaged in the brain training activity in a passive way. As the below image shows, they were sitting still and answering trivia question from the visiting facilitator. Second, the facilitator prepared the activity content by herself without any assisting from professional scientist specifically study cognitive training and brain health.
We also found people who attended this brain game activity were more likely aware of the importance of their cognitive function as they age, and seeking for help to maintain or improve it.
Define & Deliver
Adobe Creative Suits
Xiaoyuan Sharon Zhu
Team Leader & Facilitator
Primary & Secondary Research
Ideation, Sketching, Writing, Video Editing
Based on our visit to the Area 10 Aging Center and interview with the Neuroscientist on campus, our team defined our targeted user group as early stage senior citizens of regular healthy condition without serious disease. We were interested in exploring what can we do to help them to achieve successful aging with the power of technology.
Ideation & Concept Sketches
We created over 20 concept sketches within 2 days and sorted those concepts into 3 groups: Wearable devices that helps track and report user's health condition to doctor/caregiver to provide professional help to improve individual's cognitive ability; Small portable product that are easy to carry, allowing user to play brain exercise games at any time; And tangible game system that combines both brain and physical training, while encourages social involvement.
Initial Concept Usability Testing
We conducted the initial usability testing at The Endwright Center of the Area 10 Agency on Aging and Monroe County Public Library. The goal was to observe user behaviors from the testing process and to receive feedback from our participants. We conducted the study by asking trivia questions while letting the subjects build objects by using Lego pieces.
Usability testing of final concept design
We conducted the usability testing with concept prototypes - a set of 9 wood cubes. Each block was cut into 2 inches square cube. Individual cube had a marked face that represented the digital screen in the design. We invited one senior subject who is familiar with technology to test our design. We introduced two existing games, Scrabble and a pipe game, to let the subject play, and collect additional feedback afterwords.
We had constrained our initial concept to the tangible game system. We had consultant with the neuroscientist on campus, and found out physical items are necessary for successful cognitive training and that trivia and digital games alone are not enough. Also, social engagement provides the interpersonal and involves feeling of belongingness (Maslow's hierarchy of needs). Therefore, our initial concept was to combine the brain game with physical action.
Final Concept Design
Based on the test result, we iterated our concept, and created the final concept design inspired by Sifteo. The Ludus Cubus is a set of 2 inch tangible interactive blocks, designed specifically for elderly people to play games in a collaborative environment while improving their cognitive functions.
There are many possibilities that can be created around this design. We see the Ludus Cubus as a great platform that pairs current technology with cognitive training games for the elderly.
Technology: The technology of tangible interactive cubes with sensors, digital screens and LED lights already exist. As technology continues to rapidly expand, new functions and features could be integrated into this system.
Cognitive training: By utilizing the ongoing research on cognitive training methods, developer could redesign aspects of the system to incorporate new or improved methods of improving cognitive functions.
Ease of use