Blog #1: UI Improvements for the Elderly

Brian O’Leary

Dr. Coppola

October 17th, 2016

Blog #1: UI Improvements for the Elderly

The title of this undergraduate student faculty research is “UI Improvements for the Elderly”. The point of this title is to give the viewer a simple and concrete understanding of our research. Which will lessen the time it takes for people to grasp the fundamental purpose of the conducted research. “As one ages, many changes occur that may affect hand function. Changes in coordination, visual, touch, and auditory processes in addition to changes in muscular, skeletal, and nervous systems occur with age.” The authors of this scholarly journal have explained that changes occur in the elderly due to aging. This means that the way the elderly interact with mobile apps must be different due to their aging (Hackel, et al. pg. 2).

The main purpose of this research project is to better our understanding of the complexity and difficulties that mobile apps can represent to an elderly person. “The human interfaces to most computer systems for general use have been designed, either deliberately or by default, for a “typical”, younger user” (Hutchison, et al. pg. 1). This shows how there is no thought given to the elderly when any interfaces for computers, not just mobile apps are being designed. So the elderly will have significant problems when using mobile application UIs. Which makes the main objective clear; researchers will define main problems that the elderly is facing in mobile apps and create solutions that will improve their experience and reduce any stress that is imposed on elderly citizens. The goals of this project are clear:

  1. Present elderly citizens with various different mobile applications to collect large amounts of data.
  2. Dissect the information gathered through our research to isolate key problems that the elderly citizens are being faced with.
  3. Devise solutions that will reduce the stress being imposed on elderly citizens, while also catering to the specific needs that the elderly citizens have when using mobile apps.

This project will help teach students how to do research in the field and gather information. But, most importantly the researchers will learn a great deal about the problems that a specific group of people face while using mobile apps. Which will give them valuable information that they can take with me in the future and apply to my future jobs.

When research questions come up they will attempt to answer them with application. Which means they will create examples for people of different UI’s to see if we have solved some of the different issues that they have experienced. Once they find designs that benefit the elderly they will properly document them to further improve and combine our solutions. In the end they will have done the research to make a set of guidelines to follow to improve the user experience for elderly mobile application users.


Hackel, Mary E et al “Changes in Hand Function in the Aging Adult as Determined by the Jebsen Test of Hand Function.” Physical Therapy 72.5(1992): 373-377. Web.16 Oct.   2016.

Hutchison, Douglas, Caroline Eastman, and Terry Tirrito. “Designing user interfaces for older        adults.” Educational Gerontology: An International Quarterly 23.6 (1997): 497-513.

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