Much of what we think of as technology was not designed with older users in mind - the programme timer for a video recorder and the ever smaller mobile phone are good examples of designs which exclude older people - so we shouldn't be too surprised to come across some resistance to technology. Most devices are designed with the stereotypical fit, young user in mind.
But this bias towards younger users cannot continue: the population of the developed world is getting older. In Scotland in 1960, the over 60s made up 15% of the population; by 2025 they will be 30% of the population. As well as this, fewer older people live with their children than did in the past, more people live alone or with similarly-aged spouses than used to: in 1971 this group was 28% of the over 65s, by 1991 it had increased to 37%. These trends have two consequences:
But how should companies change their products to make them more easily used? What are the characteristics of an ageing population that need to be considered in designing and developing technology? How could technology be used to support people’s lives, to enhance care or to make it possible for people to live in their own homes for longer? How does university research need to change to address the challenge of design for older people?
The UTOPIA project will raise awareness of the opportunities for Scotland in the global market of design for older people by