Paco is a senior care device and app that enables the elderly to feel safer while exploring the world around them.
Product Design, Motion Design, User Research, Usability Testing
March - May 2019
The app has two parts, one part for the senior and the other part is for their caregivers. The caregivers can help the senior setup Paco and they are the target users for the app.
For the senior
The senior part of the app requires setup, and since they are the target users for the Paco device, caregivers can also help set up the app.
For the caretaker
The caregivers are the target users for the app. They can use the app to track the location of the senior and receive alerts from the senior.
The elderly especially those who live in the suburbs of the US as foreigners, tend to feel very lonely. There are many reasons that lend to their loneliness; they don’t speak Ennglish, most of them can’t drive, and when they go out they are afraid of getting lost or falling down. So they rely on their children or caregivers to take them to places but most of the time they are at home by themselves. Therefore I wanted to create a design that helps them overcome the fear of going out of their houses and explore the world around them.
There are medical devices like Medical Alert and Lifeline by Philips, that enable fall detection and come with a support center, but for the elderly who doesn't speak English, the instructions for these devices seem very complicated to follow and although they are connected to the support center, they can't really communicate their needs. Often times they are concerned about activating the medical devices because they are afraid of accidentally sending false alerts. Knowing these constraints, I wish to come up with a medical device design that is more intuitive and overcomes the language barrier.
I observed my grandma’s daily life and how she used technology. I also stayed with her and her friends from the senior care center for half a day. Here are some findings:
• They prefer using a landline over a smartphone to communicate with others.
• They can use easy to operate devices like the television, massager that only require them to press physical buttons.
• They can answer phone calls but rely on their children or caregivers to reply to important phone calls because they are afraid that they might miss important information.
• They can walk around but are limited to places near the house.
• They rarely use smartphones, but they carry smartphones when going out because they are concerned that their children or caregivers might contact them.
• They check messages from family members but don’t send messages themselves.
• They show barely any interest in new technology that looks complicated.
• They have quite rigid routines and they don’t like to change their diet or daily activities.
I interviewed 5 elderly and their caregivers from the senior care center in NJ, here are some quotes:
“ I rely on my daughter to take me to places because I am afraid I might get lost, I hope there is a way to show my family my location all the time.”
- Ms Wu
“ I pay a lot of attention to my health, I beg the buddha to bless me with good health, I am afraid of falling, I hope I will stay in good health.”
- Ms Hu
“ I am here to help my daughter take care of her family. When I am not needed, I feel useless and lonely.”
- Mr Lin
I compiled the research findings, based on the insights from user research and interview, I came up with 2 personas.
I tested the design of the wearable device, the feedback I received for the initial prototype is that people wish to wear it as a bracelet instead of brooch and they like the texture of the design but they think the design is quite ordinary. For the final prototype, people think it looks nice, the button design is intuitive, nothing seems too complicated about it.
The initial design of the app is to allow the elderly to send requests to caregivers when they want to go out, caregivers can then order taxis for the elderly and track their location. The feedback I received after usability testing is that it is very similar functionality-wise to Uber, but the elderly don’t use Uber to get to places, therefore, this feature may still a bit too complicated for the elderly to use.
Caregivers can see where the elderly are to ensure their safety when needed.
The elderly can press the alert button to send alert messages to their caregiver's phone when they need help.
Caregivers call the elderly to check on their situation and chat with them.
The final design of the app is mainly for caregivers to track the elderly’s location, receive alert messages and check on the elderly. Considering that most elderly are not used to using smartphones, the caregivers can help setup Paco for the elderly, the interaction for the elderly is mostly on the device in order to avoid complicated operation on the smartphone and make the Paco as easy to use as possible.