Any active entity that shares space with people is interpreted as a social actor. Based on this notion, we explore how robots that integrate functional utility with a social role and character can integrate meaningfully into daily practice. Informed by interviews and observations, we designed a zoomorphic floor cleaning robot which playfully interacts with care home residents affected by dementia. A field study shows that playful interaction can facilitate the introduction of utilitarian robots in care homes, being nonthreatening and easy to make sense of. Residents previously reacted with distress to a Roomba robot, but were now amused by and played with our cartoonish cat robot or simply tolerated its presence. They showed awareness of the machine-nature of the robot, even while engaging in pretend-play. A playful approach to the design of functional robots can thus explicitly conceptualize such robots as social actors in their context of use.
There is growing interest in HCI to study ways to support access to accurate, accessible, relevant online health information for different populations. Yet, there remains a need to understand the barriers that are posed by the way our platforms are designed as well as how we might overcome these barriers for people with dementia. To address this, we conducted sixteen interviews and observation sessions with people with mild to moderate dementia. Our analysis uncovered four barriers to online health information and corresponding mitigation strategies that participants employed. We discuss how HCI researchers may apply these findings towards new technical approaches and standards concerning information accessibility and credibility for neurodiverse populations. Finally, we broaden the scope of HCI research to include investigations of the accessibility and credibility of online information for people with age-related cognitive impairment independent of proxies.
People with dementia and their caregivers aging in place have expressed the need for social, emotional, and recreational interventions at home. Listening to everyday sounds evokes memories and provides conversational cues to support social relations and elicit emotional responses for people with dementia. However, research has yet to explore how these meaningful experiences can be transferred into home settings. This paper presents the insights from our co-design study that involved three people with dementia and their partners in developing an interactive sound player for listening to everyday sounds at home. We report on the motivations of people with dementia and their caregivers to engage in meaningful sound-based activities at home and present the Tumbler as a prototype to foster initiative and agency in exploring familiar everyday sounds. We present design implications of how sound can enrich the everyday experiences of dementia by facilitating social and pleasurable moments at home.
Dementia can hinder a person's ability to engage with their relatives. Existing communication technologies do not support people with dementia in maintaining social contact since they are not designed for their abilities and needs. This paper presents LivingMoments, a communication system that enables the engagement of people with dementia with their relatives. The system uses digital and physical interaction design considering people's different and changing abilities. Over a six-week field evaluation of LivingMoments, involving six participants living at home with different levels of dementia, we collected qualitative and quantitative data about the experiences of them and their relatives. Based on the data analysis, we found the need to adapt communication to individual abilities, lowering barriers through content calibration and establishing habits for continuous use. We evinced a set of design considerations for technologies to support a lasting engagement of people with dementia with different and changing abilities.