Research presented at the 2014 International Symposium on Human Factors and Ergonomics in Health Care suggests that in spite of the growing popularity and potential benefits of tracking monitors among older adults, product designers may rarely consider individuals older than 65 years of age a viable user group and the technology itself may also present usability challenges for these individuals.

A news release issued by the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society reports that authors Kimberly Preusse, Tracy Mitzner, Cara Fausset, and Wendy Rogers designed a study assessing the usability of two popular Web-based and wearable activity trackers. During the study, the researchers asked older adult participants to track their diet and exercise over a 2-week period and report the usability issues they encountered, as well as their attitudes toward technology. The release adds that the authors conducted a separate analysis of both trackers in order to uncover any design issues that could be problematic.

The results indicated a range of usability issues, such as low color contrast between icons and the background screen, small fonts, and inconsistent navigation across websites. The researchers say participants reported the technology to be inaccurate when tracking step counts and sleep patterns. Additionally, many participants reported difficulty remembering to log their information and use the device, which could be addressed by more prominent reminder options, the release states.

Preusse points out that, “Activity-monitoring technologies can make tracking diet and exercise easier because they gather some data automatically and display trends over time. Companies should market their products directly to older adult users so that they understand how the technology can be beneficial in managing their health.”

Source(s): Newswise, Human Factors and Ergonomics Society