When it comes to aging, many problems can occur, including loneliness, feeling of uselessness, and more, most of which can get you down to health problems and create the conditions for the development of diseases such as Alzheimer’s. The usual approach is to treat issues separately.
However we could trace down all of these consequences to merely two sources: the absence of a routine and the lack of new encounters.
The current ecosystem is made of local communities working to develop the social fabric and several apps designed to monitor your level of activity and meet new people. Opportunities for innovation clearly appear regarding the situation: local communities can have difficulties to touch people in their area, and apps are developped on tablets and smartphones, which makes them too technical to use for many older adults.
CommuniTea is a connected activity schedule that allows people to plan their week ahead and connect to others by simple interaction with the tangible interface.
8 areas of activity are defined and given 4 “pegs” each. These pegs are to be placed on the schedule following the planned “activity routine.” Once the week is scheduled, these activities can be shared with other CommuniTea users in the area. Once people have met they can exchange Can&Love cards, which are like contact cards, but with two faces. On the back is what you love doing, but also what you can do (to help). Hence making mutual aid more natural and easy.
Each activity peg contains a resistor specific to its related activity. When inserted into a slot, the microcontroller will scan the slot matrix for pegs, detect the position of each inserted peg, and based on the intensity of each reading understand which activities are being scheduled. It can then push the activities to a central server, and poll said server to know if other people in the area have similar activities at the same time slots. Thanks to its very simple conception it will cost just over 60 dollars to produce. Which will also be the display price, as it is not designed to be distributed as a consumer product.
Designed with the end user in mind, it will be distributed to all members of any community (families, associations, caregivers, community center, businesses, ...) to touch most people in need of connection, based on their interest, not their age or disablilities. Thanks to the technology buried deep inside the surface, it doesn’t require any technical skill from the user, thus avoiding the exclusion of non tech-proficient enough users.
It is a personnalized and simple to use device that puts people at the wheel of their own life. First you’ll have to plan ahead and decide for yourself, make arrangements with others. Then you’ll meet those people, share an activity and eventually decide to keep in touch by exchanging a Can&Love card.
That is where the technology stops and the magic of CommuniTea begins.