Current developments in video-conferencing technology are mismatched to the needs of older people, denying them the social benefits of video connection to friends and family.
The research investigated existing video services to understand where product opportunities lay. Life-sized mock-ups enabled older people to be directly involved in the early stages of the design process and imagine how a new large-screen video service could benefit them. Home interviews and visits to a community centre helped to refine ideas. The physical development of prototypes took domestic references from mirrors, window and picture frames.
The study revealed that older people desire a more engaged and connected experience via a device that is larger than a laptop and more personal than a business video conferencing system. The final prototype challenges existing norms by placing the camera in the centre of the screen so that eye contact can be maintained throughout a video call. It uses existing technology and works with existing video and voice-over-internet services. Low level LED lighting illuminates the caller's face so that expressions can be better read in most domestic lighting conditions. The faces on the screen are life size, allowing for a more natural form of interaction.