Last week I was reminded how amazingly curious, friendly and passionate Usability (UX) Professionals can be.
On 30th January, 2012, I delivered a presentation to the Cambridge Usability group at Redgate, titled ‘Tablets and smartphones, so what’s the big deal?‘. In a nutshell, I was sharing stories about the possibilities and potential of smartphones and tablets to change the lives of older people and people with disabilities. Wikipedia describes usability as “the ease of use and learnability of a human-made object. The object of use can be a software application, website, book, tool, machine, process, or anything a human interacts with.” It is the usability of tools like the ipad that bring technology into the hands of people that need it most.
My style is one that depends on audience participation, which always runs the risk that no one will want to talk. With this group, I had nothing to worry about. The were engaged, willing and a talkative bunch. Here are some of the most thought provoking questions/themes from the night:
* What do you think is the next big thing after tablet computers?
Who knows! But I hope that we continue down a path where better usability means more inclusivity. Mindings is a perfect example of how technology could change lives, let’s do more things like this.
* How do older and/or disabled people find the usability of keyboards on tablets?
Everyone is different. The option to change the format or size of a keyboard could allow for different abilities and preferences. This is definitely an area that could be researched further. The Inclusive design team have phd students currently looking at the design of ipads with older people, which could answer some of these questions.
* How could these touchscreen technologies be used in healthcare?
Oh the potential…how couldn’t they be used! Reminders to take pills, recording of blood sugar levels, connecting people together during what are often lonely times at hospital….just to name a few!
* How can these devices work for people who are blind?
RNIB are looking into this at the moment. See @JagReehal’s blog to get a link to a hackathon involving RNIB.
* What’s a social enterprise?
Once again, this term didn’t mean much to the people in this room. Nor would Community Interest Company. So when describing The You Can Hub, it is easier to say that we are a network if passionate people, supporting each other to turn their ideas for social good into action. Yes, we are determined to enable people to change the world!
I was very pleased that not only did people ask questions but they also opened up, shared stories about their own families using technology, and discussed possibilities. I wouldn’t think twice about working with the Usability community again.
If you are interested in the topic of tablets and smartphones being used with older people and people with disabilities, then please do get in touch. I love a good chat and am looking for individuals and businesses to join us for our exciting co-design event later this year.