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Voice/AI/Voice Assistants

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Voice/AI/Voice Assistants

Interface designers opt for cool over useful

In recent years, TV Remote control devices became more usable – except for Apple’s.  Rant on. Starting with the older one (“Ridiculously symmetrical and highly unusable”) to the most recent Siri remote – where they give up on usable buttons and enable changing the channel by voice. You gotta love a company with a device so devoid of buttons – and so easily off the rails with an accidental touch.  No wonder it makes more sense to talk to it. Meanwhile, many usable TV remote control devices are in the market, including an Apple TV button remote from Function101 and you can also get a button universal remote control – and even one that is back-lit – so you can see the buttons – crazy!  Why are these devices called senior remotes?  Duh, because they have buttons, which seniors, maybe tired of all the accidentally swiping and zooming they do with their smartphones, just seem comforting and accessible.

Not there yet -- today's design processes and tech are not designed for all

Design still needs to include older adults. One might say that there’s nothing left to say about this topic – it’s been said in multiple and sometimes overlapping and confusing ways. You can read about inclusive design, sometimes called design-for-all, accessible design, and universal design.  None of these concepts are specific to designing for inclusion of aging adults. And we know that older adults, some not online, are an afterthought when new emergency processes are created.  At a recent event, recommendations from design experts were discussed and considered in the context of aging adults.  But is the distinction between approaches, in fact, based on history and legal compliance? What should (really, this time!) change?

Six Aging and Health Blog Posts from the Prolific Month of June 2022

The Meta Pixel problem – who would have thought? Never a dull moment in tech world. Meta (how tiresome, we know it is Facebook) has been sending patient data from hospital systems back to Facebook (appointments, doctor, and a host of other patient-specific data) through the use of a tracking pixel.   Results from a study identifying the problem are now published, and the first of possibly multiple lawsuits are being file for mishandling personal patient data. The point of the pixel was to help in tracking consumer responses to advertising. Like many privacy violations and data misuse on the Internet, consumers are usually powerless other than voting with our feet. With this lawsuit, coupled with government attempts to crack down on big tech, is the tide is turning? 

Voice and AI – Better Together for Older Adults – New Report

Voice assistants made device hardware actually seem smart. By 2018, more technology (and associated improvements) could be found in the Cloud. Besides these invisible upgrades, the voice assistant technology has been continually improving – and if the user could be made aware of those improvements (a BIG IF), they might find them to be very useful. Consider voice-enabled smart plugs, thermostats, audio books, traffic directions, weather, and news updates – and answers to questions that might matter about health, social connection, and personal safety. Today 95 million million US adults have smart speakers and 85% of US adults own a smartphone. Both platforms are now in position to deliver value and benefit to older users -- and thus the opportunity to speak and be heard.

The State of Voice-AI and Older Adults 2022

Substantial improvements in voice and AI software will be required to enable the older adult population to fully accept and benefit from the more complex capabilities of smart speakers and voice assistants.

Isn't it time for a Voice-enabled Tech Concierge?

Tech complexity for new users is getting worse. And it’s pretty obvious to anyone who is paying attention to Apple new releases, new versions of Android phones and other apps like Spotify. And then there’s the PC that runs out of memory – just encountered yesterday. You want to see what that means by checking the manual.  How naïve.  No manual.  So you do what everyone who has just encountered an error message does.  You search the tech forums, find the example of what happened and voilà, there’s the fix. Certainly that must be what senior living residents and older adults living at home do, not to mention the of-course sizable tech staff working in senior living and elder care. Oops.

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