By Michal Herz, PH.D., Ageing Product Manager at EyeClick
The field of aging care is one that has traditionally attracted a certain type of workforce. Often, care teams are composed of people with high levels of emotional intelligence, who are hardworking and most importantly, caring individuals. These traits are evident in even the smallest of actions of everyday care, such as a kind smile, a soft touch, and many other characteristics that the majority of senior care staff exhibit when engaging with their residents.
Senior residents can come from a wide variety of backgrounds and needs as well. Some might have had a life in the past that focused on their cognitive abilities, but due their current circumstances, find classical cognitive interaction as a ‘test’ or a task which they can fail at. For example, someone who was an accountant and loved doing sudoku puzzles, but now finds the puzzles frustrating due to a deterioration in their cognitive abilities.
In addition to cognitive changes that appear in people’s brains that go along with the aging process, changes in settings can also have an impact on an individual’s willingness to engage with activities. Hearing problems might make a quiz frustrating, arthritis can discourage people from participating in art, and visual decline can discourage traditional board games.
Eyeclick’s Obie For Seniors is an award-winning interaction projection system that aims to create a new kind of playing field, where the overall experience is driven by equality. Obie was designed to enhance the lives of older adults in senior housing communities, hospitals, and clinics with interactive games that provide engagement, fun, and encourage increased mobility. The device uses sensors to identify movements such as tapping, touching, or waving and offers more than 50 research-based games designed to help seniors with physical exercise or cognitive skills.
The system provides different types of support for different players in the accessibility philosophy leading it. For example, Obie offers the following benefits with the overall goal of making the device a tool which is inclusive for all:
Obie’s games do not require any sort of linguistic understanding. There is an option to read instructions if one chooses to do so, however, the games are intuitive and self-learning can be achieved with all games via a few sets of trial and error.
When creating the Obie For Seniors product, we deliberately chose to stay in the visual world of cartoons and fantasy. This choice has many benefits for the senior residents as well as care staff. The first is that we wanted it to be crystal clear that the objects in our interactive games are not real, so the ‘apple’ can’t be eaten, and the playfulness of the activity is emphasized. Secondly, in choosing this visual line, we steer away from any discussion about inclusion or exclusion in terms of collective memory and culture, enabling everyone to feel at home with the images we present inside the game. The third benefit is that this frees us to use vivid and strong colors and contrast to help people focus and see the images we want them to engage with, in a way that might be compromised if the images were more lifelike.
For some, an auditory environment can provide a holding space for engagement, and for others, it’s a major distraction. Therefore, Obie’s games can be played either with the music or on mute, but the sound is not essential for any of the game rules (we do have a few musical games, but in choosing them there is a conscious decision to engage with the sound). The music that has been chosen is instrumental and original, therefore it does not hold any cultural context or explicit memories. The sole purpose is to enhance the game experience. At EyeClick, we strongly believe in creating products for seniors that are inclusive for all. We remain committed to the ethos of ensuring that Obie For Seniors and all our games offer the very best user experience possible, no matter what limitations a person may have.
Learn more at ObieForSeniors.com.