Elderly Woman Looking At A Smartphone With Confused Expression

Our world faces challenges dealing with an aging population as individuals live longer than ever before. Wearable Health Tech and other mobile devices hold forth the promise of helping provide more effective healthcare for the elderly, save costs, and give individuals the opportunity for independent living without increased risk. These systems can also help bring peace of mind to family members and caregivers who are responsible for helping older individuals.

However, not all of these systems have been designed with adequate consideration of the needs of an older population. Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Georgia Tech Research Institute have published a paper on “Activity Monitoring Technologies and Older Adult Users.” In it, the authors cite a number of interesting findings. They studied the use of two activity trackers by elderly subjects, and found that the devices had many usability faults. These include low color contrast between icons and the background screen, small fonts, and inconsistent navigation bars across Web sites. They also found that some users had difficulty entering log data, and that the devices were not accurate in measuring their activity.

Wearable devices can certainly help older individuals lead healthier and safer lives, but designers must take into consideration the differences in ability among such users and the population in general.