See Scientific impact

Moments of connection

Moments of connection: Combining interactive ambient technology and narrative technology to promote connectedness in older adults

People are growing older, but more and more with chronic illnesses. Political strategies mainly focus on self-management and autonomy, but this comes with a risk of social isolation and loneliness. Currently, loneliness is at an all-time high, affecting approximately 50% of all older adults. This is particularly troublesome as it also increases the risk of both physical and cognitive decline. Importantly, exposure to nature enhances feelings of connectedness. However, older persons often have limited or no access to nature because of mobility constraints. For them, developments in interactive ambient technology hold great promise as exposure to designed nature scenes can provide a substitute for actual nature. As people mutually express their identities, memories and emotions through stories, storytelling in everyday social interactions is an important means of connecting people. Technology allows for automated behavioral analysis in the verbal and nonverbal expression and sharing of stories: behavioral measures (e.g., eye contact, turn taking), body language (e.g., posture, physical distance), prosodic features (e.g., speech rate, pitch), facial expressions (e.g., happiness, engagement) and verbal expressions (e.g., emotional valence, vividness). In a series of studies, we seek to combine the design science of interactive ambient technologies with the technology-mediated analysis of everyday social interactions in order to develop and test prototypes(s) of interactive ambient landscapes in long-term care. Besides developing new technologies for design and analysis, the project will result in a technology that can be implemented in long-term care.

Funding: Faculty BMS Signature PhD

Partners: BMSLab, Department of Communication Science, Universitair Kennisnetwerk Ouderenzorg Nijmegen

Supervisors: Gerben Westerhof, Thomas van Rompay, Jan-Willem van ’t Klooster, Debby Gerritsen

Years: 2020-2024

PhD student: Kars Otten