Introduction

As the population of Americans 65 and older starts off an expected to become more than 80 million (doubling), by 2050, while by 2025 the number of households headed by someone 70 or older is set to soar 42 percent (28 million), which is same as current number of iPhone users in the United States of America [18] making them potential target audience. The physical and mental state transforms with the age of a person. Because of these changes, many times elderly people get sensory, visually and cognitively impaired. These problems affect their technology interaction style and start to differ from normal users. The usual applications focus on the mid-age group which thus bars the elderly to use those apps. When all possible technological interactions are becoming touch-gestures based. Hence, it is important to focus on the touchscreen applications interaction usability issues for elderly users.

According to previous researches, the touchscreen interaction has been recommended for older adults for causes like devices are less intimidating [11], less cognitive, spatial or attentional demand [13] so older users performances are better than compared with others input devices [14] also minimizes the age-related dissimilarities of interaction when compared to traditional input devices [12],[4,15]. The authors in a research work agree that touchscreen devices and applications developed for helping older adults should use gestures of interaction that are easy to learn, to perform and to remember [6]. However, those users still face major difficulties with conventional touchscreen applications [9]. In order to decrease the error rate, respond to older users’ special needs and support older users during tactile interaction is a truly necessary. The most common age influenced usability issues were regarded to be ‘longer learning time’ and ‘visual acuity’ [8]. The researchers experienced that older users commits significantly more errors and takes the longer time to perform a task than the younger users. In their study, they found that elderly users’ performance suffered more from suboptimal usability design such as small button size and spacing than younger participant performance [21]. There should be a solution to produce same the experience for older users compared to younger users. Therefore, it is highly desirable to work on evolving user interface and interaction design with touch screen applications and related elderly users’ problems.

Digging deeper in elder adult’s lives, most of them are retired or about to retire from their work. Old age people live away from their children mostly with their age person/s or alone, therefore sometimes they feel isolated and disconnected with society as well as current trends. This situation can introduce depression, loneliness, and sickness to older people [16]. And ICT (Information Communication Technology) was found to alleviate the elderly’s social isolation through four mechanisms: connecting to the outside world, gaining social support, engaging in activities of interests, and boosting self-confidence [22]. The very recent study shows the “IM, Voice & Video Calls” and “Social Network” are the major area of smartphone use, even their results denotes 79% of older adults bought smartphones for themselves. And recorded the reason to buy smartphone was “they did not have a smartphone, they bought one.”[20]. So, making social media applications highly usable on smartphones for elderly is worthwhile area to study. As a result of the study the user experience gap between elderly and young adults can be bridged.

Instead of creating separate application [23] or proposing adapter application [24], here I would like to introduce re-design existing application interaction to personalize elderly experience. By utilizing re-designed UI, a person will be able to take advantage of elder-friendly application, which will be easy to learn, use and remember for elder user compare to current application. To be specific, I shall experiment with existing highly used & famous smartphone application among young adults from communication category. As a result of the project, we will get user tested redesigned user interface and interaction of the existing touchscreen app among young people that will solve the problem of cognitive and visual affordance for elderly people. The project will try to cover the broad aspect of user interaction like buttons, headers, labels, size, and spacing, input interactions, so recommended prototype can guide application design process. By using accessible smartphone social application with easy interaction, elderly adults will be able to live better around touchscreen smartphones reducing social isolation and mingle well with younger generations.

The study will be focused on a couple of research questions as well as null hypotheses as below:

RQ.1. What interaction mechanisms for touch screens are more usable by elderly adults? The five usability attributes will be measured and evaluated.

RQ.2. How to further leverage the usability of touchscreen interactions for elderly adults with cognitive and visual impairments?

Null Hypotheses:

H0.1. The reason behind the lower number of active elderly users on the available smartphone communication & social applications is age-related usability issues.

H0.2. There is need of specific user interface and interaction design to facilitate elder users to use smartphone applications.

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