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Social networking sites (SNSs) provide users ambient awareness of the interests and activities of friends and relatives helping them sustain and strengthen social ties. Older adults who are not adopting SNSs might however feel like outsiders of their own families who increasingly rely on these services to socialize. Previous research has shown that situated displays can provide appropriate interfaces for older adults to use digital services. In this project we explore how situated displays can intuitively provide ambient awareness to connect older adults with their relatives. We designed and developed Tlatoque, a situated display to seamlessly integrate older adults into the SNS used by their relatives.
Tlatoque is a lightweight client of a SNS (i.e., Facebook) running on a KodakTM digital frame or in an all-in-one touch PC that provides to older adults ambient awareness of the relatives’ whereabouts. We decided to use Facebook since it was the most popular SNS at the time of implementation and the preferred communication media among the studied households. Everyday a web feed file (RSS feed) is generated, containing the last four days of photographs relatives uploaded to Facebook. This gives the older adult the opportunity to enjoy the photographs for a reasonable period of time (e.g.,one week). The digital frame is configured to read the RSS feed each time it is turned on and each photograph is displayed for one minute. In an effort to avoid disparity between the older adult’s contacts, Tlatoque maintains a fair balance among the number of photographs displayed per relative and the frequency in which the photographs are updated. Tlatoque enables older adults to browse relatives’ photographs and status updates. Mimicking a traditional SNS user interface, the owner’s information is shown next to the displayed photograph whereas the photograph’s context is displayed at the bottom. The photo carousel can be manually controlled through gestures on the multi-touch display enabling older adults to pause, forward, and rewind the displayed photograph. These actions are performed with swipe gestures like turning the page of a photo album or taping on an object. Rather than maintaining a constant amount of photographs per relative, Tlatoque can be customized to set the desired maximum amount of photographs on the carousel and then attempts to balance the amount of photographs between relatives.
The older adult can tap the comments icon (depicted with the callout figure) for retrieving the photograph’s comments or tap the “like” icon for posting a like in her profile account.  Tlatoque  integrates personalized information feeds to enable older adults to share, directly to the SNS, meaningful information about their lifestyle such as routines or hobbies. These services are personalized for each older adult and household to naturally fit into each family dynamic. These services are embedded into a set of GUI widgets that enable an older adult to selectively share personal interests on photographs, music, news and weather. Each widget has a “share” button that allows the user to decide what information to share and with whom via Facebook. When the user presses the sharing button (depicted with an “F”) the displayed information will automatically update the older adult Facebook status with the appropriate Facebook content. For instance, pushing a button next to the weather widget will update her status to indicate the current weather conditions at her home city (Figure 5b). Similarly, when she is listening to the digital audio player on the lower-right corner of the display she can decide to share this information. Her social network will see a message indicating the name of the song she is currently listening to.
The results of a 21-week deployment study of an initial version of Tlatoque in one extended family show that the older adult became more conscious of relatives activities enriching in-person encounters. However, relatives expected the older adult to reply to their posts in the SNS but Tlatoque lacked mechanisms for the older adult to provide feedback. We re-designed Tlatoque to incorporate means for enabling the older adult to share information back to the SNS. We conducted a second 21-week deployment study with another family to evaluate the use of this new version of the system. Our results indicate that the second design was successful in providing ambient awareness to the older adult as well as to her relatives. We conclude that situated displays that provide SNS services can assist the integration of older adults to their social network, and contribute to enhance asymmetric relations between the older adult and younger relatives.
We are still recruiting so contact us if you are interested in participating in this project!

Project participants

 Raymundo Cornejo, Doctoral Student (see more about raymundo ...)
e: rcornejo[at]cicese[dot]edu[dot]mx

Monica Tentori, Ph.D., Assistant Professor (see more about monica …)
e: mten …

In collaboration with Jesus Favela (CICESE)

Related publications to the project

  • Munoz, D., Cornejo, R., Gutierrez, F. J., Favela, J., Ochoa, S. F., Tentori, M. (2014) “Connecting Families in the Era of Information: Aligning Social Interaction Among Members of a Family Community” Accepted to Future Generation of Computer Systems.

  • D. Muñoz, R. Cornejo, S. F. Ochoa, J. Favela, F. Gutierrez and M. Tentori (2013. “Aligning intergenerational communication patterns and rhythms in the age of social media”. In Proc. of the Chilean Conference on Human-Computer Interaction. Temuco, Chile. Nov 11-15, 2013

  • Cornejo, R., Tentori, M., and Favela, J. (in press) “Enriching in-person encounters through social media: A study on family connectedness for the elderly”. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies

  • Cornejo, R., Hernández, D., Favela, J. and Tentori, M (2012) “Persuading older adults to socialize and exercise trough ambient games” In Workshop of Wellness and HCI, PervasiveHealth 2012, San Diego California, May 21-24, 2012

  • Cornejo, R., Favela, J. y Tentori, M.  (in press) “Ambient awareness to connect older adults with their families”, JCSCW

  • Cornejo, R.,  Favela, J. y Tentori, M. (2010) “Ambient Displays for Integrating Older Adults into Social Networking Sites”, CRIWG’10, Maastrict, The Netherlands, September 20-23, Springer-Verlag, 321-336pp

  • Cornejo, R., Tentori, M. y Favela, J. (2009) “Integrating elders into virtual social networks through ambient displays”, HCI EA’09, San Diego, CA, USA 19-24 July 09. PP 956-960. ISBN 978-3-642-02884-7.