On September 17th and 18th 2018, Professor Barb Marshall and Postdoctoral Fellow Nicole Dalmer travelled to Stockholm, Sweden to take part in a 2-day design workshop and the first Annual General Meeting for the international project, BCONNECT@HOME, or “Being Connected” at Home – Making Use of Digital Devices in Later Life.
BCONNECT@HOME is an international project funded by the European “More Years, Better Lives” initiative. This international collaboration, with partners in Sweden, Spain and the Netherlands, looks at the intersections of aging and technology. More specifically, this project will examine the contribution of digital communication devices (including smartphones, computers, apps, and fitness trackers, among others) to the experience of later life and the experience of being connected.
Hosted at the Open Lab at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, this workshop served as an opportunity for the BCONNECT@HOME research group members from each of the four countries to meet one another and strategize for the upcoming years of the project.
On day one, we were guided by the Swedish team (led by Dr. Britt Östlund) to participate in a design workshop, where each country was encouraged to brainstorm, imagine and create a smart home technology application that uses artificial intelligence and that would be of use for an older adult population. Barb and Nicole first created a fictional character (Judy) and then had quite a hoot using Lego to design a smart home tech solution that would best fit Judy’s contexts and needs. Ultimately, Nicole and Barb imagined a piece of technology that looked like a piece of art, that could be moved from room to room, that would allow Judy to stay connected to family across the globe, and that would use artificial intelligence to adapt to Judy’s speech. The Lego, rather unexpectedly, enabled us to think in new and different ways!
On day two, we delved deeper into the details and logistics of the overall BCONNECT@HOME project, discussing expectations and deliverables, sorting through timelines and establishing the framework through which the countries will be working and conducting their studies. As part of the Annual Management Board Meeting, we also learned about each of the team’s research plans and shared ideas for joint publications.
Nicole and Barb, along with Dr. Stephen Katz, are heading up the Canadian branch of his project, looking at the digital infrastructures of health and well-being in later life. This Stockholm workshop was a fantastic first meet-up of the BCONNECT@HOME team members. More to come!