Workpackage 4: Technology for Active Participation in Society

Core ResearchCatalyst ProgramStrategic Investment Program
Promoting Social Connectedness through New and Innovative Communication Platforms – Workpackage 4.1 CONNECT-TECH

Research indicates that as many as 43% of older adults living in the community feel socially isolated. The negative effects are well documented: depression, stress, functional decline and death. Our web-based Connections platform helps seniors to interact comfortably online with family, friends, caregivers, and organizations for better support and connectedness.

Award Term: April 1, 2015 - September 30, 2019

AGE-WELL NCE Investment: $ 717,889

Total Non-NCE Contribution: $ 140,340

Project Leads
  • Ronald Baecker, University of Toronto
  • Sandra Black, Sunnybrook Health Sciences
Selected Publications
Promoting Social Connectedness through Playing Together- Digital Social Games for Learning and Entertainment – Workpackage 4.2 CONNECT-PLAY

Research has shown that digital games can enhance older adults’ cognitive abilities, social connectedness, and overall wellbeing. This project builds on research evidence to create customizable, socially stimulating, computer and tablet-based learning games for older adults to enjoy with peers or in an inter-generational format.

Award Term: April 1, 2015 - March 31, 2020

AGE-WELL NCE Investment: $ 797,207

Total Non-NCE Contribution: $ 396,330

Project Leads
  • David Kaufman, Simon Fraser University
  • Louise Sauve, TÉLUQ
Promoting Social Connectedness through Collaborating on Digital Storytelling and Knowledge Creation and Sharing – Workpackage 4.3 CONNECT-CREATE

This project focuses on the design of technological platforms to enable older adults to use digital storytelling as a means of communicating and socializing. Older adults use these platforms and tools to create digital stories covering significant events in their lives and/or their communities.

Award Term: April 1, 2015 - March 31, 2020

AGE-WELL NCE Investment: $ 976,669

Total Non-NCE Contribution: $ 641,817

Project Leads
  • Karyn Moffatt, McGill University
  • Cosmin Munteanu, University of Toronto
Improving the Learnability and Usability of Mobile Devices for Older Adults – Workpackage 4.8-CAT
Project Leads
  • Joanna McGrenere, University of British Columbia
Promoting quality of life through creative and collaborative music-making with an assistive digital music technology – Workpackage 4.9-CAT

This research explores the use of assistive music technology as a catalyst for creativity, collaboration and enhanced quality of later-life within assisted living communities. Previous research has attributed significant social, emotional and cognitive benefits amongst senior citizens to their involvement in musical activities. However, research that addresses age-related barriers to ‘musicking’, which include the accessibility of conventional musical instruments, is limited. Our research will thus investigate systematically the use of an innovative assistive digital music technology that may mitigate such barriers, thus maximizing the potential for access to the creative, social, psychological, and physiological benefits of musical engagement in later-life. We will focus on the Soundbeam, an assistive digital music technology that uses motion sensors to translate body movements into music and sound. Soundbeam offers a stable and versatile technological platform that enables both touch and touch-free interaction in unlimited musical styles, as well as the built-in ability to record and share musical creations online, thus further promoting social connectedness.

The feasibility of such technologies as tools to support creativity and quality of life amongst older people in assisted living contexts remains under-researched. Accordingly, we aim to improve the lives of Canadian seniors by: 1) engaging seniors in creative social practice through music and sound, by developing novel musical practices and artefacts using the Soundbeam; 2) fostering creative musical collaborations, learning and play that harness the potential of an assistive music technology within later-life contexts; and 3) exploring the feasibility of the Soundbeam as a tool that can contribute to enhanced quality of later-life. Our project will therefore make an original contribution to knowledge concerning the role of technology in creative arts-based approaches to enhancing the quality of later-life.

Project Leads
  • Andrea Creech, McGill University