I'm a Gerontologist and I Work at a Startup

We then added another study group, partnering with the team at Jewish Family and Children’s Services in San Francisco, as well as some of their clients. It was very interesting to see the similarities and the differences between the two populations of older adults.

Our Users in Mind

These interviews and research have helped us create a user profile and attain an understanding of users’ needs and beliefs, before diving into the development and design of the product.

We let our focus groups and other seniors experience various technologies and voice assistants and requested feedback about different aspects of the devices used. ElliQ’s features were determined by what older adults thought was necessary and useful for them.

It is very important for us to ensure that we are creating the best possible experience with ElliQ and that we help combat loneliness and social isolation through some of the technological advances made in recent years. We are constantly incorporating older adults’ experiences and desires, so that we can make educated decisions about the product; for example, ElliQ’s ‘stop what you’re doing’ button was added as the result of user feedback.

Our Development Process

The coolest part about my job is that I get to see ElliQ come to life. I got to interact with ElliQ when she was only a few lines of code, and I now share my office with her! My day-today work with the development team is exciting. I get to teach ElliQ new skills and go out into the field to get users’ feedback right after.

When an older adult makes a suggestion about anything related to ElliQ’s functionality, settings or features, I gather and take the feedback to the development team. At this point I can teach ElliQ a new trick with a few simple tools and some magic from the hands of our dedicated team.

As mentioned before, older adults don’t always feel confident to use technology. If you haven’t been in someone’s shoes, it’s hard to know his needs. That’s why our development team also needs to get educated on the needs and aspects of the older adults. Naturally, I’m also in charge of this process. I present the latest research findings, both mine and academic, to the team, to ensure better understanding of the needs of the elderly.

The following article was republished with permission from Intuition Robotics.