4:40 - 6:10 pmSaturday, September 6
LK 304
Workshop: Making sensors meaningful for the elderly: Health and wellbeing monitoring
LK 304
Workshop: Making sensors meaningful for the elderly: Health and wellbeing monitoring
Interaction and service designer at CIID Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design
Interaction and Service Designer
The proposed workshop focuses on applying Design research methodologies to probe and emphasize the meaningfulness of health and wellbeing monitoring and sensing systems distributed in the homes of elderly... Read more


The proposed workshop focuses on applying Design research methodologies to probe and emphasize the meaningfulness of health and wellbeing monitoring and sensing systems distributed in the homes of elderly people.

The outlook that the workshop embraces is a people-centered research approach, applied for the early phases of the EU’s Ambient-Assisted Living project called HELICOPTER. It aims at exploiting ambient-design technologies in the home to provide older adults and their informal caregivers with support, motivation and guidance for a healthy and safe lifestyle. The project is targeted at 65+ adults, not suffering from major chronic diseases or severe disabilities, yet possibly having risk of metabolic or circulatory malfunctioning which are endemic for this age class (e.g. hypertension, mild diabetes). Moreover, bad life habits play a major role in the development and progression of such diseases, resulting in co-morbidities. Nutrition, medical therapies and physical exercise are the keys for prevention and control. Regular checking of
health parameters or regular interaction with a physician or caregiver is often overlooked, due to boredom, perceived complexity, or lack of motivation. The idea behind the project is to support end-user and their care-givers with feedback, advice, and motivation by analyzing the healthiness of the end-users via the monitoring of daily life behaviors, as well as medical status,
in an unobtrusive and simple way. This is done through the design and installation of distributed ambient intelligence as a sensors network in the house.

The workshop will introduce ways of investigating how  “meaningful” sensors can become in the domestic landscape of elderly households. This dimension, emphasized through user-centered approaches and mappings of lifestyle and personal value-spaces, is not always related to the relevance of technical data that sensors are actually capturing. Instead tracing and outlining the meaningfulness of a sensor element deals with an elderly person’s own awareness and perception of sensors distributed in their environment, taking into consideration:

1)  The physicality of the sensors (where they are placed, the material of their construction, their shape);

2)  Their behavior as perceived by elderly, who interact with them in passive and active ways (how sensors themselves “perceive”, and their own “behavior” as they switch on, change context and framing, switch off);

3)  Their sensing capabilities (as understood by the inhabitants, through their mental model of the system)

The workshop will consist in designing “cultural probes” — tangible and creative tasks that participants will be asked to design for prospective elderly participants of the HELICOPTER research. The elderly respondents will be invited to carry out the tasks of these designed elements in their own homes for a short period. Each probe aims at investigating an elderly person’s point of view of both the sensors’ anatomy (collection of designed physical and technical artifacts) and character (as a behavioral actor in the domestic space). We seek to uncover the domestic landscape of the participants households as an operating theatre of sensors, as a system of both technological and meaning-derived analysis and synthesis.

Laura Boffi is an interaction and service designer. She is interested in researching how people create their own culture around the context in which they inhabit and the objects they use, often by appropriating in a spontaneous and very meaningful way the material and technology artifacts they are surrounded by.

One of her main fascination has been medicine and how the progress of science has been changing the way people experience life and death. Driven by this research interest, Laura developed her final thesis in Interaction Design at CIID around palliative care and terminal illness, co-designing an alternative and symbolic patient journey with the staff, patients and caregivers of an hospice in Rome, Italy.

Her background is in product design. She earned her BA in Industrial Design from Politecnico of Torino, Italy and her MA in Design from Design Academy Eindhoven, program Man and Humanity. Finally she completed the Interaction Design Program at CIID where she could widen her attitude towards design through people centered research and design research process.

While being a researcher at CIID, Laura is pursuing her goal of setting up her own studio in Rome and of introducing design research in public sectors in Italy, such as health care.

Caroline Arvidsson is an interaction and service designer with a Masters degree in Communication Design. Since joining CIID Caroline has worked on research projects with multiple partners, in Italy, Romania and Sweden, conducting in-depth research with elderly participants to understand and develop designs and services for a self-sufficient and social everyday life. Her language skills enable her to adapt quickly to new environments and project sites; she is fluent in Swedish, Danish, English and Italian, and has an intermediate level in Norwegian, Spanish and German.

Her previous experience includes working for the cross-ministerial think-tank MindLab in Copenhagen, where her tasks extended from ethnographic fieldwork to visualising insights from interviews and creating new research tools. She also worked at Movium SLU, in Sweden, she designed a website to enable dialogue and co-creation between client and users and performed editorial and journalistic work.

Caroline’s skills enable the interconnection between anthropology and design, with a focus on user experience, visualisation and design for social impact. She develops new design research tools to understand and translate insights from people’s every lives into designs and services.

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