Mobile app design for better brain agingJun 29, 2016
Tagged in interviews, startup, social responsibility, psychology
Brian met Dave Newcombe through the inapp messaging service which we provide at Fluid UI. After a brief discussion about the aims of the Fountain Of Health project we decided to support it with a free license and all the help they would need as they are designing the app.
The Fountain of Health 5-point questionnaire and handbook are useful tools in the office to help patients age productively. Fountain of Health provides a roadmap to avoid the cultural potholes and stereotypes that get in the way of healthy aging. – Dr. Roger Hamilton, Wolfville NS.
The Fountain of Health Initiative for Optimal Aging is a national health promotion project aimed at helping Canadians to optimize brain health over the course of their life. Their mission is to help people to become aware of the need to prepare for long and healthy lifespans. The Fountain of Health (FoH) is offering leadership of a national movement for optimal aging.
5 Things You Can Do
Raise public awareness of issues relating to healthy aging and promote practical steps that will improve emotional well being and health over the entire course of a life
FoH develops tools to enable health professionals to promote healthy behaviours
FoH provides a menu of lectures and a host of speakers who are experts in their field and are available to speak to groups around Canada
FoH contributes to international research through the World Aging and Brain Health Institute. WABHI fosters collaborative research in optimal aging and brain health.
Brian: Can prototyping software help create solutions to social problems?
Dave: Software alone can’t solve all our problems. However, it’s often an important part of the solution. If it’s well designed it could have a significant impact. Lets face it - end users instinctively know if software is good or bad. A well designed program will be engaging and give users confidence about the social outcomes.
That’s where prototyping comes in. It lets you quickly experiment with ideas in a very visualize way. It gets them out of our heads and onto a format that can be shared and discussed. Quickly exploring various visual, navigation and interactive ideas is a tremendous way to help focus on what works and what doesn’t. It’s about finding viable solutions early in the development process.
It’s worth noting that there are many challenges to changing ones health behaviour. Extra encouragement, prompting and support is needed- and that’s where health providers come in. Their input is an integral part of our prototyping, and needed before we scale up.
Brian: Can we change the way we view design and make technology work for everyone?
Dave: I don’t think most people realize the value of good design - although that’s gradually changing. But working with prototyping software has a big impact on their views of design. When a team experiences the prototyping process they may more quickly realize the value of good vs bad design. Prototyping lets them see both early on.
Brian: Do you have any designers on your team, or individuals with a design role?
Dave: I currently fill the design role, but don’t class myself as a professional designer. I believe that good design can only be achieved if you focus on understanding the needs, concerns and limitations of the users. So my role has been to question and dig for answers to these questions. From that I’ve been evolving a prototype for our app.
Brian: Did you begin with a problem that you wanted to solve?
Dave: Yes, our problem is very well defined. People now live longer than ever. But aging is difficult for many and we’re looking for ways to encourage them to be more active and positive in their lives.
Brian: Did you use any paper ‘mockups’ of your app before you began using Fluid UI?
Dave: Not at first. But in recent meetings we’ve been hastily drawing ideas on paper to try and capture them more fully than just making notes. Ideas get thrown around quickly at meetings so quick sketches are a very helpful part of the process.
Brian: Do you get feedback from users before or during the process of designing the tools?
Dave: Our early prototypes have been reviewed by health care professionals. We plan to review our final prototype with users to see where improvements could be made.
Brian: What sort of projects are you working on at the moment and why?
Dave: I have written and support custom software for 3 Toronto companies. Each has unique needs that can’t be met by off-the-shelf software.
Brian: How useful have you found Fluid UI?
Dave: Fluid UI has been incredibly helpful. It’s an excellent tool to visualize the potential look and interactivity of our app. It’s been a great benefit to stimulate discussion and new ideas at each team review meeting.