Flux is a video chat device designed for elderly users. Its physical controls and simple interface provide a platform for users to connect with family via Google Hangouts. Allowing family to join the call on any personal device gives it mainstream appeal, so it can be adopted by anyone. While not in use Flux displays a family photograph, fading over time to indicate when you last connected. Flux was conceived in response to research into impressions elderly adults have of modern technology. Many interfaces aren’t designed to suit their needs, often taking a long time to learn and lacking similarities.

Flux is my honours year solo project. This project started out with no end product in mind; the concept derived directly from the research conducted. In doing so the end product tackles design and social issues that were witnessed first hand. I looked into the ways in which elderly people communicate with each other and use technology in their everyday lives. There was a common theme; interfaces are often too complex for elderly users, because the technology hasn’t been conceived with their needs in mind. The sources for this project are wide, combining literature studies, running workshops, attending the Age Collective conference and volunteering at an elderly computer club every week.

The prototype has been built as an android application on a nexus 7, with the physical input being dealt with by an arduino board. The arduino reads in the user input, maps the data and sends it over bluetooth to the android application. The android application then takes these values and performs the relevant task depending on the value received. The physical buttons can change the device volume and make and end calls in google hangouts.

As my longest running solo project to date it has taught me a breadth of skills and allowed me to consider the implementation of an end product from all angles. Moving through research, rapid prototyping, implementation and considering the user experience and branding. The full design process is described in detail throughout my blog. 

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