I’m interested in working on projects that support people to take advantage of the benefits of technology in a personally meaningful way. I’m currently working to help older adults to build their own electronically enhanced devices using maker technology like Arduino. Older adults are quite capable of learning how to use these technologies if they’re catered to their needs and interests while also addressing some of the knowledge barriers they have. Through my work thus far, I’ve seen how they may be intimidated by using this technology initially, but when you build up their knowledge, they’re interested in making creative artifacts just like other groups. I’m especially interested to see if they value opportunities to create health-sensing devices. To accomplish this, I’m working to design a toolkit of Arduino-based components for them to build on their own. I’m focused on trying to abstract away the need for lots of electronics knowledge and programming so they can easily build and prototype their own personalized artifacts.

So far, I’ve been working on doing a needs assessment to better understand the needs and interests of older adults. I’ve focused much of my work on older adult crafters, since they’re a group of older adults who are already building physical objects and would likely be one of the most interested subsets. Additionally, there’s opportunities to leverage the way crafter groups are organized and how they support each other to create.

Below is an example of a quilt I helped create using LilyPad Arduino and conductive thread. The quilt lights up the LEDs based on how long it’s been since the person wearing it has moved.

This is a quilt we’ve made as an example. It uses a LilyPad Arduino with an accelerometer and LEDs to indicate how long the wearer has been sitting.