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BBL Speaker Series: Fostering Digital Inclusion: Co-Design with Racial Minority, Low-Income Older Adults for Smart Speaker Applications to Enhance Social Connections and Well-being

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Speaker: Dr. Jane Chung, Associate Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Nursing

Location: HBK 2105 and Zoom Watch Here!

Abstract: Older adult residents of low-income housing are at a high risk of unmanaged health conditions, loneliness, and limited healthcare access. Smart speakers have the potential to improve social connections and well-being among older adult residents. We conducted an iterative, user-centered design study with primarily African American older adults who lived alone in low-income housing to develop low-fidelity prototypes of smart speaker applications for wellness and social connections. Focus groups were held to elicit feedback about challenges with maintaining wellness and attitudes towards smart speakers. Through design workshops, they identified several smart speaker functionalities perceived as necessary for improving wellness and social connectedness. Then, several low-fidelity prototypes and use scenarios were developed in the following categories: wellness check-ins, befriending the virtual agent, community involvement, and mood detection. We demonstrate how smart speakers can provide a tool for their wellness and increase access to applications that provide a virtual space for social engagement. This presentation will also highlight strategies for addressing digital health inequities among socially vulnerable older adults. The goal is to enhance technology proficiency, reduce fear, and ultimately foster the acceptance of essential technologies.

Bio: Dr. Jane Chung is an Associate Professor at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Nursing. She is a nurse scientist with special emphasis on aging and technology research. Her research program has two foci: 1) advancing the methods for functional health monitoring and risk detection among older adults using innovative sensor technologies and 2) improving social connectedness and well-being in socially vulnerable older adults based on advances in data science and digital technologies including novel machine learning algorithms. She currently leads two NIH-funded studies – R01 project to identify digital biomarkers of mobility that are predictive of cognitive decline in community-dwelling older adults, and R21 project where her team is developing a smart speaker-based system for automatic loneliness assessment in older adults. Recently, she has been selected as a fellow for the Betty Irene Moore Fellowship for Nurse Leaders and Innovators, and in this fellowship program, she is working on a smart speaker-based intervention designed to assist low-income older adults in managing chronic conditions and daily activities more effectively.