Experts from across Europe have gathered at the University of Abertay Dundee this week to plan a major new initiative designed to make technology more accessible to the continent’s ageing population.
More than 30 technologists, psychologists, medical experts, policymakers and others from Norway, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium joined scientists at Abertay University for a three-day conference of partners in the EU-funded iAge project.
iAge was launched earlier this year and will run until 2014, co-funded by the EU’s Interreg IVB Programme for theNorth SeaRegion.. Abertay is the only UK organisation among 18 partners spread across the six countries involved in iAge.
The partners want to improve the delivery of services and stimulate economic development through innovation in ICT (information and communications technology).
Dr John Isaacs, of Abertay University’s School of Engineering, Computing and Applied Mathematics, said: “The number of people over 65 years old in Europe is forecast to grow by more than 50% by 2030, greatly increasing pressure on pensions, health care, the labour market and the sustainability of communities.
“At the same time, today's senior people are healthier, more mobile, qualified, IT- skilled and have greater purchasing power than any generation before. Developing technology better suited to their needs and abilities could yield substantial social and economic benefits both for them and their communities.
“Although more and more older people are using new technology such as smartphones and tablet computers, not much of this technology is expressly designed with them in mind. People with impaired vision or manual dexterity, for example, could have particular problems as devices get smaller and software applications become more sophisticated,” he added.
The conference at Abertay is discussing plans for an international survey of the needs and problems of end-users regarding the use of new technologies, especially people who need or could benefit from technology-assisted living. The partners are also discussing issues of design and usability in age-related conditions affecting Europe, including how psychology can help to design and evaluate technology.