Age & Ability Lab
Research Associate: Sam Jewell and Jonathan West
Research Partner: Sony
Touchscreen devices such as tablet computers and smartphones occupy a new space in our lives and novel etiquettes and behaviours are constantly evolving around them. Their portability, connectivity and easy-access interfaces mean that they are used in different ways from preceding technologies. This project with Sony applied design ethnography techniques to understand ways in which the user experience of touchscreen devices can be improved for people of all ages.
The study worked with people aged over 60 and under 25. Sony tablet computers were given to six lead users to see how the devices integrated into their daily lives. Two concept areas emerged. ‘Living Interfaces’ animates the screen to be more representative of the real world, using changes in texture, colour and materials on text and buttons. 2D maps become 3D with the addition of shadows and highlights showing contours. ‘Smart Pen’ allows written communication to be captured digitally so messages can be written using pen and paper then digitally sent by ticking a printed box. Meeting notes, online banking and music notation feature among many other potential applications.