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A complex relationship: Older people and in-car message systems

M. Zajicek, I-M. Jonsson

Gerontechnology 2007; 6(2):66-78 doi:


The motivations and preferences of different user groups are important when designing for all and accessibility, in the sense of access to computer systems, is only one aspect of the enterprise. Ubiquitous computing by its very nature is difficult to evaluate in a laboratory setting and if an application is safety critical it is also difficult to evaluate in a real life scenario. This paper examines the part that context plays in the evaluation of a speech-based in-car messaging system when tested with older adults. The results show that older people are significantly influenced by the context in which evaluation takes place and in fact produced different evaluations of speech messages when heard on a laptop compared with within a simulated driving scenario. Younger people were far more consistent in their evaluation under both conditions, and less influenced by the change in context. These results reveal the complexity entailed when designing for all with in-car speech systems which include older people, and point to the need for extra care when testing ubiquitous computer systems for older people.
Keywords: in-car speech system; driving simulator; driving safety

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Gerontechnology (ISSN/EISSN 1569-1101 1569-111X) is the official journal of the International Society for Gerontechnology