21 September 2007

Robots turn off senior citizens in ageing Japan

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Applying some user-centred design principles could have prevented this debacle:

High-tech gadgets and futuristic robots which Japan had hoped might lend a hand when the population turns gray haven’t caught on with the elderly, who according to forecasts will make up around 40 percent of the population by the middle of the century.

“Most (elderly) people are not interested in robots. They see robots as overly-complicated and unpractical. They want to be able to get around their house, take a bath, get to the toilet and that’s about it,” said Ruth Campbell, a geriatric social worker at the University of Tokyo.

Japanese manufacturers have learned the hard way that the elderly want everyday products adapted to their needs — easy to read for those with poor eyesight, big buttons for people with trembling hands and clear audio for the hard of hearing.

Read full story [Reuters]

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