COBALT, TUNGSTEN, and THAW: New tools for engaging older adults as technology experts

A. J. Astell*, J. Andrews, M. Bennion, D. Clayton, E. Dove, M. P. Ellis, F. Hwang, C. Mcgrath, E. A. Williams

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose Despite the rapid development of technology for older adults the pace of adoption has been slow1. The disconnect between technological development and adoption by older adults highlights a clear gap between the perceptions, priorities, and needs of older adults and the knowledge and understanding of key disciplines involved in designing and developing technologies, such as computing, engineering, architecture, and designers2. The TUNGSTEN (Tools for User Needs Gathering to Support Technology Engagement) project is bringing together and testing interactive techniques initially created in the COBALT (Challenging Obstacles and Barriers to Assisted Living Technologies) and THAW (Technology for Healthy Ageing and Wellbeing) projects, to address this gap, based on the notion that older adults are experts in their technology adoption. Method Older adults, health and social care staff, researchers and industrial partners are being invited to half and one day facilitated workshops to trial the TUNGSTEN tools. The tools are structured activities that include "Technology Interaction", "Show and Tell" and "Scavenger Hunt". These workshops are also used for data collection on a range of topics. To date twelve workshops have been held in the UK and Canada on a range of topics: 5 on technology for ageing well, 4 focusing on living with cognitive impairment, 2 on late life mental health, and one on redesigning an assistive technology service provision. Results & Discussion Feedback on the workshops is universally positive. The tools and the structure of the workshops are designed to facilitate discussion and interaction and to enable everyone's voice to be heard. Older adults provide insights into the factors that influence their decisions to adopt or reject technology. They also address issues relating to support for using new technology, costs and payment, where they would go to access technology and what is important to them when selecting new technology. The workshops enable health and social care providers, researchers and industry to engage with older adults as equals. This provides insights of benefit to service delivery and development of new and emerging technologies for older adults. The TUNGSTEN tools are modules that can be fitted together to construct highly structured events with a wide range of technology users.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77s
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018


  • Expertise
  • Older adults
  • Technology adoption


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