Engaging older adults: a digital companion device

Study level

Master of Philosophy


Vacation research experience scheme

Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.


Associate Professor Luis Mejias Alvarez
Associate Professor, UAV
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty

External supervisors

  • Griselda Calabrese


This project involves the study and development of an innovative digital companion platform to improve senior’s user-accessibility, maintain active ageing, promote social engagement and enhance their quality of life. The project will explore ways seniors are interacting with current technologies such as mobile applications and wearables, and their expectations and user satisfaction with technology in their everyday life activities.

Our main goal is to reduce today’s fast-growing digital divide by leveraging novel technologies that are more supportive and interactive reducing tactile interaction with devices (e.g voice-enabled).We are looking at developing a MVP eco-system suite of Cognitive and Physical Skills API’s applications that could include areas beyond the ones already available commercially or open-source.

Other relevant areas of development will include programmable & on-demand interactive API’s, automated searches, gaming, music, dance, laughter yoga and meditations sessions, storytelling, audiobook listening, entertainments and customized help assistance to mitigate loneliness and social isolation by facilitating lifestyle decisions and use of community support. There is potential for integrating health-wearables and other IOT sensors platforms in the future.

Research activities

  • Quantitative and qualitative research interviews to better understand different seniors user experience models and expectations.
  • Participatory workshops: co-designing of hardware specifications and analysis of comparative market ready technologies.
  • Development of innovative chat bots conversations and mobile interactive applications.


  1. Prototyping of a novel interactive digital companion device.
  2. Field study, testing and viability of MVP applications for use by seniors in Residential homes and long stay Rehabilitation environments, before making It available for private use.

Skills and experience

We are seeking students with strong human-computer interaction, ideally with an interest in qualitative research, participatory design and prototyping.

Programming skills: Python, c/c++, familiarity with Raspberry PIs, Android and ROS.



Contact the supervisor for more information.