Christina Harrington Presentation

Christina Harrington will give the talk, "Participatory Approaches to Designing for Health Technologies for the Aging Population."

Abstract: The field of pervasive computing has seen an emergence of health technologies targeting physical activity promotion or health maintenance, yet among various special populations many health technologies see low and inconsistent usage rates or quick abandonment due to lack of motivational affordance and poor design consideration. Identifying useful and effective design elements of health technologies has the potential to create meaningful experiences, and thus should be a critical focus of computing research. Through collaborative creative processes, participatory design provides useful insight and direction for the design of health technologies from underserved populations including older adults who are often neglected in design. Community-based participatory design centers underserved populations as co-creators of technology as opposed to just consumers, shifting interaction to also consider the social and cultural influences impacting technology needs. This approach also has promise to provide a better understanding of health from a collaborative community perspective, which I and other researchers have found to lead to themes of holistic approaches to health, self-empowerment, and a shift in the ways we conceptualize designing for aging. My research focuses on employing participatory research methods to evaluate and enhance underserved older adults’ experiences with health technologies. This approach extends humancentered design past the emotional appeal of artifact, and addresses ways design researchers can improve health and wellness by leveraging the unique abilities and values of end users. I discuss recent research projects leveraging human-centered and participatory design methods to better enhance interactions with health and wellness technologies among older adults.

Harrington is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Communication Studies department at Northwestern University. As a designer and qualitative researcher, her work focuses on understanding and conceptualizing technology experiences that support health and wellness among older adults and individuals with disabilities. Her current work involves leveraging co-creation and community-based participatory research methods to understand the health technology needs and experiences of low-income and minority older adults. Harrington completed her PhD in industrial design from Georgia Tech prior to joining the Inclusive Technology Lab at Northwestern University.