We used a voice interface to design natural experiences between the elderly and technology.

Research & Ideation

Our main learning during the research process was that elderlies tend to struggle using advanced technology and therefore they don’t make use of them to facilitate their life’s .

Questions about the project:

• How can a voice interface facilitate communication?
• How can we balance privacy with voice interfaces?
• How can we design the interaction between the device and people’s emotion and cases of emergency?

Research phases

Phase 1:


A pet owl interacting with you through eye expressions.

An interactive home monitoring device

• with humanized expression
• very friendly
• very natural

• only surveillance feature
• no central management device

JIBO Intelligent Robot

Friendly, helpful and intelligent.

He can sense and respond, and learns as you engage with him

•Easy to get familiar with for Kids, Seniors, Teens
•Full of personality

• Less privacy the camera follows your movement
• Still in early-stage development


Smarter and getting smarter

All-round entertainment control system for entire home with its wonderful voice control.

•Hands-free speaker
•Smart Home
•Fullrich APIs for developers

• Power plugin
• Not portable

Phase 2:
Guerilla interviews

We conducted 3 interviews on the streets.

• 42, Self-employed
• He is open to personal assistant
• He is aware of privacy issuesPeter
• 70, Retired Electrician
• Many people are over-challenged by technology, because of the complex interfaceJulie
• 26, Student
• tried Apples Siri
• It doesn’t help a lot

* Guerilla interview is an unsophisticated style of interview. It is usually done with real people on the street. The purpose is to explore general attitudes or how they think  a problem, and to test a hypothesis with non-leading, open-ended questions.

Source: https://medium.com/tradecraft-traction/12-tips-for-successful-guerrilla-interviewing-27af0f6690f3 

Our main findings:

Elderlies tend to struggle using advanced technology and therefore they don’t make use of them to facilitate their life’s.

Phase 3: 
Creating Personas

78, retired electrician

  • Lives alone in an apartment, has two sons.
  • Has found his girlfriend online.
  • Wants to use novel technology.
  • Has a simple life, is healthy.
  • Goes for a walk every day.
  • Likes to optimize his home and to it more convenient (with technology).

68, housewife

  • Lives in a big suburb house with her husband and cats.
  • Has no computer or smartphone – just TV and radio.
  • She is enjoying her life and is talkative.
  • Needs medical care and regular health check.
  • Wants to stay in contact with friends and family.

Phase 3: 
Creating User Stories

As Julie…
“I want my device to get to know me by talking to it.”
“I want to communicate with my family!”
“I want the device to recognize when an emergency is happening!”
“I want that the device shares basic information about my medical situation to people who give first aid.”
“I want to get smart support after I have had an accident while recovering at home.”

Phase 4:
Experience Journey Map

We used a Experience Journey Map to develop a typical story our Persona Julie undergoes. During this process we implemented product and service ideas into the story.

Thereby we discovered the following pain points:

  • Setup of electronic devices
  • Interfaces are based on complex mental models.
  • Seniors often can’t call for help by themselves.
  • Correct medication and behavior is crucial for a proper recovery.

Product idea:
Wearable intelligent voice assistant who gives you a secure feeling and helps you master your life as an old person.

Target Group:
Old people who live alone and need support to make their life more secure and convenient.

Video prototype:

Feature: Humanized icons provide visual hints of the voice system.

Key Benefits

Natural handling

  • The device adjusts itself to the user. 
  • Just talk to it and it will understand you.

Julie: I want my device to get to know me by talking to me

Interpersonal relationship

  • Immediate connection to family or an ambulance, without the operation of the complex user interface of smartphone.

 Julie: I want to communicate with my family often.

Secure feeling

  • Reminds you automatically to make appointments, take your pills or to lock the doors.

Julie: I want my device to recognise when an emergency happens!


  • Control your smart home or seamlessly connect to any cloud based service.
  • Opens your doors if you need help.

Julie: I want the device to share basic information about my medical situation to people who gives first aid.


  • Artificial intelligence proactively offers you help based on the situation.

Julie: I want to get smart support after I had an accident while recovering at home.


Course: Research and Ideation with leading design firms: The Frog Way, winter 2016
Tutor: Jan Gohlke
Team: I Hong Cheng, Oo Kang Zheng, Paul Roeder, Samantha Lin

Video demo