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Comunicar Journal 45: Communicating in an Ageing World (Vol. 23 - 2015)

A mobile augmented reality assistive technology for the elderly


Rafael Saracchini

Carlos Catalina-Ortega

Luca Bordoni


Modern technology offers many facilities, but elderly people are often unable to enjoy them fully because they feel discouraged or intimidated by modern devices, and hus become progressively isolated in a society where Internet communication and ICT knowledge are essential. In this paper we present a study performed during the Nacodeal Project, which aims to offer a technological solution that may improve elderly people's every day autonomy and life quality through the integration of ICTs. In order to achieve this goal, state-of-art Augmented Reality technology was developed along with carefully designed Internet services and interfaces for mobile devices. Such technology only requires the infrastructure which already exists in most residences and health-care centres. We present the design of a prototypical system consisting of a tablet and a wearable AR system, and the evaluation of its impact on the social interaction of its users as well its acceptance and usability. This evaluation was performed, through focus groups and individual pilot tests, on 48 participants that included elderly people, caregivers and experts. Their feedback leads us to the conclusion that there are significant benefits to be gained and much interest among the elderly in assistive AR-based ICTs, particularly in relation to the communication and autonomy that they may provide.


Assisted living, augmented reality, ICT, media literacy, cognitive stimulation, elderly people, learning