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Press Release: New report, The User Experience Needs an Upgrade

06/13/2024

Baby boomers and beyond increasingly depend on technology -- but using it has become a chore of fragmentation across devices and websites.

As the pace of inevitable tech change collides with an aging demographic, firms will need to seek user input, especially in healthcare. Accessibility features will become standard technology features.”

— Laurie Orlov

Did you miss one? Aging and Health Tech blog posts from April 2024

The tech user experience for all ages is mostly depressing.  A few delighters here and there break up a constant struggle to produce the right command, find the right part of the right website, and overcome the insanity of bug-fixing updates after updates.  And that is if you are well-trained and proficient.  Whether it is a phone, a tablet, or a much-needed website, we curse and complain – and then there’s another software update and a new set of complaints. We struggle with appliance and car interfaces, trying to understand the rationale for buttons and screens that are cluttered with too much information. Stay tuned for the May, 2024 report about these user experiences and what can be done to improve them.   The April blogs:

For big tech, "Ready, Fire, Aim" design approaches are user-hostile

What happens when engineers believe that no matter what, the customers will buy? Rant on. Look at the forum discussions of problems after Apple’s release in November, or consider Google’s Gemini self-humiliation.  Will users turn in their iPhones in disgust? Stop using Gmail in protest? What about the Tesla that is so cool it does not have to identify clearly how to open the door, or put the car into drive or reverse? Was the car returned? Will customers return a device they don’t understand? Consider Windows 11 updates are tormenting users, again per Microsoft’s own forum. Will people give up using the PC? Not likely. 

Kalogon Unveils Orbiter Med: A Medicare-Approved Custom Wheelchair Cushion for Pressure Management and Postural Support

04/11/2024

Melbourne, Fla. (April 11, 2024) - Kalogon, a leader in smart seating solutions, today unveiled a new custom wheelchair cushion, Orbiter Med, which the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has approved for the use of Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) Code E2609 to bill Medicare. For the first time, Orbiter Med combines Kalogon’s groundbreaking Advanced Pressure Management (APM) system with the individualized postural support of a custom cushion reimbursable by insurance. 

Did you miss one? March blogs lament deteriorating user experience

The decline of design.  As interviews proceed for the upcoming report, The Future of the Tech User Experience, all agree.  The deteriorating user experience, aka UX, is the result of fragmentation across multiple devices, portals, and websites. Product development has superseded UX. The pre-development focus group has been largely abandoned in favor of a post release shock-and-awe experience both for developers (bad PR) and customers (just plain bad).  And it is not just tech – consider the impenetrable smart TV interface, the microwave button-display combination, the new car that lacks readable warning lights and other user interface issues.  Here are the blog posts from March:

The tech user experience today – the customer does not matter 

Has the  tech user experience substantially improved?  For years device and software tech ‘improved’ to a point of widespread optimism about our tech future. Certainly access has improved: Ninety-five percent of Americans use the Internet and more than 80% have broadband at home. Today there are numerous programs to subsidize access, and   smartphone penetration has exceeded 92%.  One would believe this ubiquity of access might make us hopeful that we are now in the era of tech helping consumers of all ages, no matter what task or level of knowledge.  

Could conversational AI help the tech user experience?

Tech user experiences are deteriorating at a rapid rate – for all.  If you have encountered any of the following, you know.  The absurdity of two-factor authentication within a single device, long complex passwords, five years of remembered password history to prevent re-use.  And that’s before you have logged into a site that could simply be a news media or site or Gmail that just wants to display insulting and absurd ads now that you have been ‘authenticated’. Or you can examine the behavior of the same software applications across multiple devices.  You may have noticed that scam innovation is beginning to outpace the product development cycles in other categories – (although some scammers seem able to be scammed themselves).

Challenging Innovators to Design for Older Adults: 2014 -2024

In the tech innovation world, a decade is both a long and short time.  In 2014, AARP’s Health Innovation @50+ sponsored a report, Challenging Innovators: Matching Offerings to the Needs of Older Adults.  It was published in June of 2014 in conjunction with a Venture Summit event run by Mary Furlong and Associates. This was exactly a decade prior to this year’s What’s Next Longevity Venture Summit. 

The user experience with Google: You are the product for better or worse

Consider Google and its tightly coupled products.  You launch the search engine on your phone and are surprised to see all of these ‘news’ items about local topics that have appeared in your Gmail inbox. How personalized. A few years ago, a $395 million settlement with 40 states was reached about Google’s lack of clarity about its location tracking, which users thought they had turned off in settings. An apology followed, along with many more lawsuits and fines, including some large ones in Europe. Did anything change? Not really.  In 2024, as a result of European pressure, Google announced how to disconnect some ‘Linked Services’ in Europe, a euphemism for passing your data (you) from one Google product to another, a feature that may appear in the US one day, though will it really change anything? Doubtful.

The Tech User Experience for Older Adults Needs A Reboot

Is the user experience deteriorating? Tech user experience experts focus on everyone except older adults. But there’s a problem:  from AARP’s tech trends survey from 2024 and their 2023 guidance from AARP on inclusive design practices, it’s clear and as the AARP report notes, “No one prefers badly designed, over-complicated products.”  Despite preferences, surveys show that today’s user experience for older adults is more problematic than ever. All are confronted with buggy software and frequent bug fix releases, such a problem on iPhones that an embarrassed Apple redirected software work towards fixing. And Google is no better with Pixel phones

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