The Configuration of Older Users as Drivers of Innovation in the Design of Digital Technologies

Keywords: Innovation Age, Digitization, Participation, Funding Policies, User-centred Design (UCD), Solution-centered design

Abstract

This paper develops hypotheses on the discovery of older people as "users" in the publicly funded development of digital technologies and underlying innovation policy motives. We then describe the effects of this innovation policy on the development of products and older people as their users in the context of Ambient Assisted Living (AAL). To this end, we reconstruct the involvement of users in two AAL funding programs, one at the European level and one at the national level (Germany). Based on this, we discuss the resulting consequences by describing how older people are configured as users in technology development with a focus on the concept of user-centered design (UCD) and what this configuration means for the developed technologies as well as for the older users. We describe how the participation of older people in technology development projects is a complex task that is not without controversy in social science research on user participation. We conclude by arguing for alternative technology development strategies and funding practices.

Author Biographies

Cordula Endter, Zittau Görlitz University of Applied Science

Deputy Professor for Social Gerontology at the University of Applied Science Zittau/Görlitz. Her research addresses aging and digitization. Her key focus is on the digital participation, inclusion and competence of older people in the areas of living, health and care.

Sebastian Merkel, Ruhr-University Bochum

Deputy Professor for Social Gerontology at the University of Applied Science Zittau/Görlitz. Her research addresses aging and digitization. Her key focus is on the digital participation, inclusion and competence of older people in the areas of living, health and care.

Harald Künemund, University of Vechta

Professor for Research Methods at the University of Vechta. Main research areas are Research design and methods, social participation, and social inequalities, with a focus on elderly people (among others: productive aging, social networks and support, political participation, intergenerational relations, transfers and bequests, poverty and social security, crowding out and crowding in, technology and AAL, aging in Africa).
Google: https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=K51kq5YAAAAJ.

Published
2022-09-05