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Designing technology to support quality of life in people with dementia
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Dr Grant Gibson
Orpwood R, Sixsmith A, Torrington J, Chadd J, Gibson G, Chalfont G
Technology and Disability
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Much assistive technology for people with dementia is primarily designed to support security and safety. This paper describes design work carried out for a project called INDEPENDENT which specifically aimed at designing technology to support quality of life. The project involved academic engineers, social scientists and architects, together with representatives of user groups and a manufacturer. The design work was based on a comprehensive user survey in which people with dementia themselves highlighted the factors which affected their quality of life. This data was analysed through a series of multi-disciplinary workshops involving the whole project consortium. The workshops consolidated the data into a wish-list of 11 areas crucial to quality of life that could then be addressed by new designs. Of the total of 69 designs that were considered, 4 were selected for initial design work within the project; a simple music player, a window-on-the-world device for streaming remote images into people's homes and between homes, a conversation prompter, and a device to support sequences of activities. The paper describes progress with these devices, highlighting the iterative and user-led design methodology used.
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