AWARD WINNING

2nd price - TechSAge Design Competition 2016. 
Georgia Institute of technology. Atlanta, GA, USA.
techsagecompetition.com


Oganized by TechSAge Research Engineering Rehabilitation Center (RERC) and sponsored by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR)  www.techsage.gatech.edu
CommuniTea is a connected scheduling board.

It allows older adults to develop a routine and meet people from their area based on their activities. 
It allows the community to grow stronger through the promotion of mutual aid among its members.  

AN ARAY OF ISSUES
MORE SALIENT LONELINESS
“Loneliness may be something that is particularly salient in later life, and we should design interventions that help screen for it, [...] sometimes just realizing that someone is listening and they’re not being ignored makes a difference.” (2) 

HEALTH HARMING LONELINESS
By 2008, 24.8 percent of [lonely people] reported declines in their ability to perform the so-called activities of daily living — to bathe, dress, eat, toilet and get up from a chair or a bed on their own. Among those free of loneliness, only 12.5 percent reported such declines. (2) 

EMPTY NESTS
“Kids tend to move away and not be around any more,” Blair said. “It used to be there were three generations under one roof.” (8)

WEAKER SOCIAL FABRIC
Social engagement with individuals and communities appears weaker than 15 years ago, the research revealed. This is especially true for 55  to 64-year-olds, who exhibit notably weaker relationships with spouses, partners, family, friends and neighbors. They also are involved less in their communities than their predecessors. (1)

UNFITTED TECHNOLOGY
They discovered that [...] the term “technology” tends to put [older adults] off. (4)

HEALTH HARMING INACTIVITY
"Older adults who reported either light or no exercise at all experienced a cognitive decline equal to 10 more years of aging when compared to people who were moderate to intense exercisers." (5)

FEELING OF USELESSNESS
“As you get older, you see the world writing you off,” she said, adding, “So you tend to become passive and think, "I don’t want to bother anybody." You lose contact with your own kind, your tribe. And before you know it, you’re feeling bad.” (9)

HARMING TECHNOLOGY
" [...] excessive use of automats to cure older adults creates loneliness and aggravates their condition." (10) 

AN OPPORTUNITY FOR INNOVATION
OLDER ADULTS ARE GENERALLY MORE ACTIVE
The 2014 United States of Aging Survey finds Americans 60 and older report they are more motivated than in the past two years to improve their health by exercising regularly and setting health goals — two simple steps which also relate to reported increases in optimism among seniors. (7) 

EXERCISE IS BETTER SHARED
“Physical activity is multidimensional, not only energy expenditure but also social, mental and emotional activities are involved.” (3)

ROUTINE IS KEY
Having a routine is key to happiness. “Their routines are different but always involve some structure and internal discipline.” (6)
OUR ORIGINAL INSIGHT
Develop a routine with a sensitive feedback - Share with others.
Make new encounters - Create a positive loop.
DEVELOPPED WITH OLDER ADULTS
For two months we developed an iteration process to confront our ideas to actual people and validate or not key points of our original concept. Progressively by discussing and collecting user feedbacks with several mockups we worked to adjust our concept to offer the best proposal to their needs.
March 1rst - Original concept.
March 12 - Mockup n°1, 2 and 3.
March 19 - Interview with Didier, Veronique and Anne-Geneviève.
March 21 - Mockup adjustments.
April 2 - Interview with Hubert and Marie-Ange. 
April 8 - Mockup n°4.
April 17 - Test with Jean-Pierre.
April 26 - Meet and discuss with older adults.
DESIGNED FOR OLDER ADULTS
1 - PLAN
Scheduling ahead is a way to commit to an active lifestyle. Pegs are easy to use and read, and appear like non-technlogical and provide a immediate visual feedback of the level of activity. The e-ink screen feels reassuring and is easily forgotten.  Plus it consumes virtually nothing.
2 - CONNECT
Addressing everyone in its diverstity, CommuniTea will be available as an app too. The experience will remain the same. It looks like what it is : a weekly schedule, all the tech stuff is buried deep behind the surface. The cards are an opportunity to get people defined as doers, and make mutual aid more natural.
3 - EMULATE
Sticking to 8 general fields allows people with similar activities to meet, share and learn from each other. The implementation of CommuniTea will be designed as an event, including most actors of the community.
TAILORED TO THE COMMUNITY
READY FOR TESTING
Each activity peg contains a resistor specific to its related activity. When inserted into a slot, the microcontroller will scan the slot matrix for pegs, detect the position of each inserted peg, and based on the intensity of each reading understand which activities are being scheduled. It can then push the activities to a central server, and poll said server to know if other people in the area have similar activities at the same time slots.
IMPLEMENTATION PLAN
OUR MOTIVATION
Allow the development of an ecosystem around the device to fix the cracks in our social interactions system.


Step 1
CONTACT LOCAL COMMUNITY
Contact community centers and local workers that will allow us to get more informations about the place, the people and the activities already implemented to include in the first row of activities/ get them to invest in the project.

Step 2
GET IN TOUCH WITH CAREGIVERS
Find people engaged in the community:  families, doctors, social workers/ get the strongest members to become Friends of CommuniTea.

Step 3
INVITE OLDER ADULTS TO TRAINING SESSIONS
A series of events for people to know the device/ see how it works/ get their own tailored device for free / schedule their first week...

Step 4
GET THE COMMUNITEA STARTED
All devices are Wi-Fi connected. To make things simpler CommuniTea will provide an overall access to the broadband on the area.

Step 5
PROVIDE SOME "COMMUNITEA FRIENDLY SPOTS"
People will need a place to meet in the first place, some places where they can feel safe. Public locals can be used like libraries or any public building, but private businesses can also provide some space as well, like cafés, restaurants or shops hence becoming friends of CommuniTea. They can also be a place to get technical support.

Step 6
IMPROVE FROM EXPERIENCE
Be available for users, get frequent feedback through recuring events. Get each user a potential ambassador for further implementations.

(1) The Sightlines Project: Seeing Our Way to Living Long, Living Well in 21st Century America. 
(2) Loneliness in Older Persons: A Predictor of Functional Decline and Death, July 23, 2012 Carla M. Perissinotto, MD, MHS; Irena Stijacic Cenzer, MA; Kenneth E. Covinsky, MD, MPH.
(3) Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, online March 11, 2016.
(4) Andrew Smith, Brookdale’s director of strategy and innovation. 
(5) Medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
(6) What working in a nursing home taught me about life, death, and America’s cultural values. Valery Hazanov on March 17, 2016.
(7) National Council on Aging. (2014). Survey shows older Americans’ health engagement, outlook on life improve.
(8) Hogan, J. (2014, May 10). 70 year old honored for efforts to help other seniors. Las Vegas Review Journal.
(9) The High Price of Loneliness by Judith Graham.
(10) Questions numériques 2015.

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