With an ageing population, there is a rising trend for computer scientists and engineers to take into account the elderly in the design of new products and technologies. Designing products for the “grey market” where the consumers (elderly) are proven to be big spenders has its economical value for the businessman, and also helps improve safety and quality of their consumers’ lives (The Economist, 2005). Technologies specifically for the elderly include healthcare products, electronic gadgets and other electrical appliances to help them lead a more independent lifestyle.
Fig. 1: Proportion of world population 60 years or over, 1950-2050 (Source: UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs)
However, it is inevitable that some products may not be well-received by its targeted audience. According to the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) by Davis (1986), user acceptance behavior is highly governed by their perceived usefulness and ease of use (York University, n.d.). Hence some products which are specially designed for the elderly may lose their appeal if they are not considerate in terms of these 2 ideas.
There are several reasons why elderly are reluctant to accept new technologies. They are less receptive to new technologies as compared to the younger generation because they were not introduced to new technologies for almost their entire lifetime. They tend to pick up new skills slower hence are unwilling to use devices that seem complex and difficult to start using. In addition, such devices do not seem to bring about significant improvements to them as compared to the time and effort required to learn to use them. Such a phenomenon is well-supported by theory, where according to TAM, perceived ease of use is the most important reason as it is believed to impact perceived usefulness of a product. Hence, technologies that seem to be complicated will not appeal to the elderly.
Statistics have shown that elderly has remained the lowest computer and...