Forget me Not

Social Isolation / Indirect Communication / Ageing

Decline in social relations of older adults has a direct effect on well-being in later stages of life as it was highlighted by studies from Age UK and the: “Keeping Connected Challenge” by Design Council (UK, 2011). Symptoms that signal the start of isolation/depression pass unnoticed until they reach a clinical point. The aim of this, final year university project was the investigation of design solutions that could address the impact of social isolation and provide a preventive framework for elder people.

Context

A higher life expectancy along with a reduction in mobility and more time spent at home can enhance the feeling of isolation in older adults. Women face a bigger challenge in this aspect as they are most likely to live alone. (Eitzen, 2004) Isolation and loneliness can have a dramatic effect on personal well-being of older people and could potentially manifest into depression or worse mental conditions. In 2025 it is projected that 80% of people aged 85 and over and 40% of people aged 65-74 will suffer from depression (McCormick et al., 2009).

Communication is a multifaceted activity covering a large array of human interactions. As an integral part of daily life it acquired an ubiquitous status, nowadays it is a common good much like water and electricity. Constant shifting technological manifestations over the last years, keep pushing the boundaries of connectivity through the human population. In this hyper-connected state lies a paradox, a large percentage of older adults face the potential of social isolation.

Research

Since I was not the intended target user, I needed to gain a deeper understanding and test my assumptions from direct sources.  I approached two elder community groups and conducted several workshops with the lovely ladies that agreed to help me. It was a great experience and a glimpse into the power of collaborative, human-centric design .

“You could have sit for days, mind your little way and nobody would notice”


 “The called me last month very loud, saying you haven’t checked with us is everything ok?”


 

Prototyping

Social withdrawal could be monitored using household objects to detect pattern disturbances of daily life activities. Communicating these changes to a close network of recipients, objects act as proxies for the individual users.

“Forget me Not” is a remote sensor network consisting of wireless sensor modules working in conjunction with household objects and a hub device which would collect and transmit the information to a recipient base. Sensors collect information passively without affecting the life of the user while on the receiver part the interaction is more perceivable and direct.

Design Embodiment

The visual identity of the project is based on the form and colours of Myosotis flowers, or more commonly known as: “Forget me Not”. Both the name, appearance and reception of the flower in popular culture were providing an ideal vehicle for a strong brand identity that retained the subtlety of the core message.