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Information Visualization to Help the Elderly Understand Smartphones

With the increasingly ageing population in all parts of the world, the elderly have correspondingly higher requirements as to the quality of their life, so design activities must pay more attention to their needs. However, the particular aspects of the elderly population have not been fully taken into account as yet. Because of the rapid development of Internet and mobile communication technologies, people's quality of life has, for instance, greatly improved. But those among the elderly who have not yet mastered the skills of using smart products, somehow seem to be abandoned by this era. As smartphones become one of the most popular products today, some old people still feel contrary or anxious about them.

With increasing age, old people’s physiology and psychology undergo a great many changes. Increasingly, they cannot even see the words on the screen. An unknown change in the interface of a phone may upset them if they accidentally click the wrong button. In the face of various mistakes in mobile-phone operation, their ability to deal with problems on their own gradually declines, resulting in a lot of negative psychological emotions. Meanwhile, many old people living alone lack the courage to overcome difficulties and learn to use smartphones due to a lack of help from their families. Therefore, the elderly need some auxiliary products or training opportunities to understand and learn how to use smartphones. Smartphones cannot only provide the elderly with a plus as to quality of life, but also help them better integrate into family and social activities and receive positive psychological encouragement.

In order to reduce their fear of smartphones and help them understand and easily, my research tried to find a visual way suitable for the elderly through various experiments. This involves translating abstract, virtual interaction structures from smartphones into concrete knowledge that older people can understand. The main goal of information visualization is to transform abstract information into concrete and intuitive information by creating effective methods. I hope to explain the connotation of a smartphone to the elderly in the form of instructions, but I also hope to create some media different from the traditional means of instruction. In other words, the object of my experiment is a map with explanatory functions. Based on the cognitive ability, life experience and social and historical background of the elderly, all kinds of visual elements in the graphics also need to be screened and then presented in a visual manner of communication suitable for the elderly.

Effective visual means can help the elderly better understand and remember complex information or knowledge. Only by understanding the virtual world inside a smartphone can the elderly master the way to use a smartphone more quickly. In this study, the tree and concept maps of information visualization are used as the appropriate experimental tools. In several experiments, tree and concept maps were combined with various visual elements to produce a variety of interesting results. Vector image and pixel image are also experimental means, which not only satisfy the product function, but also embody some aesthetic value.
Basel, 2020