Mission Statement: To make home wireless network setup and use easier for the average user, with special focus on older adults (ages 55+).
Key Findings: In the 45-54 age group only %20.22 are not on the internet, however in the 55+ age group that percentage shoots up to 44.14%. That leaves 50.1% of older adults using the internet, or 21,824,000 in the United States alone. Through interviews of my non-profits OATSNYC & SeniorNet, and computer users 55+ their motivation for using or learning to use the internet are as follows: Health benefits, social activities, word processing, email, online shopping, keeping financial records, banking, stocks, and news. Senior citizens also suffer from depression and many cannot get out of the house. The internet would provide a world of interaction, socialization, and information to their doorstep.
While internet use a huge component of home wireless networks there are also 10 different home-consumer product types that benefit from or require a wireless network to function. Examples of these products are wireless prints, VOIP phones, media and audio servers. The future of such devices is extremely bright and is tightly tied to the 55+ age group. Security systems, “smart home” technologies, and assisted living technologies are expected to soar according Author Anderson Research. Senior citizens often require expensive human living assistance and monitoring, but it is the goal to have this information transmitted wireless over a home network, through the internet to the proper health care personnel. This is especially important because elderly have a difficult time getting out of the house to receive a checkup.
Import findings can from an interview with an OATSNY computer class instructor who mentioned that older adults tend to learn better in steps rather than organically, which is how most people who use the internet function. Giving a steps 1-5 listing on how to achieve a certain task is key for older adults. They will read everything, unlike younger generations that simple scan for important information. They require a slow pace and a lot of repetition to facilitate learning. Pictures help significantly in assisting learning, and using simple computer jargon such as “double click” or “refresh” can be confusing to seniors.
By comparing FAQs on the leading wireless router manufacturer’s (Linksys, Netgear, DLink, Apple) websites and in addition my own personal experience, I have identified common problems that users experience when using such a device. Common problems include accessing the router setup page, dealing with service outages, and being out of range of the router’s reach.
I intend to expand my research through more statistics, interviews with OATSNY class members, by reaching out to SeniorNet, the AARP, and the NYC Older Adults program. I ordered 2 recommended OATSNY textbooks, I am continuing my ethnographic observations and OATSNY classes, and I aim to contact tech programs at Columbia, NYC, and CUNY to get a better understanding of wireless home networks and routers, and well as purchase a book on the topic.
Sketches of ideas: Concept 1 – An attempt to make the traditional router easier to use. Wireless network USB access “sticks” are house in the front and can be pulled out for use. Setting a network password is now done easily, with large analog controls that work like a padlock.
Concept 2 – A variation of concept 1. The network password is controlled through a turn-able safe style knob. The front offers a pull out instruction manual for trouble shooting with extra large font. Both the ethernet and power cables for the modem are plugged into this router so that one button can reset the whole system for better trouble shooting.
Concept 3 – Another variation of concept 1. The network password is controlled through a telephone style system, something that is very familiar to the user group. The antenna is hidden for a simpler look. The front of the router is tilted for easy viewing and features a problem center that can help identify problems with internet outages and propose solutions.
Cost/Marketing Techniques: Marketing on SeniorNet, Senior Planet, NYC Older Adults website, AARP Evaluation/Prototype Testing: Through OATSNY and SeniorNet users, as well as other age groups to provide a clear contrast in results Materials: Injection molded polypropylene Packaging/Distribution Method: Simple, minimal, uncomplicated packaging with easy to read instructions containing simple steps. Distribution through stores, NFPs, and senior care groups