Design of a devices’ system with tangible interface aimed to an inclusive smart working experience and wellbeing

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Conference Proceedings
Authors: Davide Di BellaKiana KianfarAlessandra Rinaldi

Abstract: In Europe, the demographic profile is towards an increasingly aged workforce [1], characterized by a significant aging of the population. The people aged 55 years or more accounted for one fifth of the total workforce, and as one consequence of increasing longevity, must work more years before retirement [2].Aging of the workforce is a growing problem for many developed and developing countries, pushing companies to explore ways to keep older workers employed for a longer period of time and to support them to maintain their work ability and increase their employability. The literature shows that “age related factors should be taken into consideration in daily management, including work arrangements and individual work tasks, so that everybody, regardless of age, feels empowered in reaching their own and corporate goals” [3].At the same rhythm with these challenges related to the ageing workforce, the work itself is undergoing technological upgrading driven by digitization. ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) have radically determined the modification of people's habits and lifestyles, also in the field of work, introducing new methods of working for example the smart working. These evolving work methods required smart workers to acquire new professional skills in a short time and to adapt to new technologies, new work processes and new forms of collaboration. All these changes lead to greater difficulties, especially for aged smart workers, such as: i) lack of physical interactions and the resulting isolation; ii) increased workload and consequently increased stress (always on); iii) difficulties in communication and time management problems; iv) work-life balance and personal life problems. Therefore it emerges the need to design innovative and friendly devices to address the challenges and difficulties mentioned above, facilitating interaction between smart workers, time management and work organization. These innovative devices and systems need to be easy to use and intuitive to learn in order to increase the inclusion of the aging smart workers, reducing the digital divide.Tangible User Interfaces could represent a fertile ground with the greatest potential to tackle these challenges as they give physical form to digital information and computation, and at the same time they facilitate the direct manipulation of bits. Unlike GUIs, where human-machine interaction occurs through the use of a mouse, keyboard or touchpad and is displayed on a screen as interaction’s results, the use of TUIs involves direct interaction with physical objects to which digital information has been associated, within a defined action space.In this context, the challenge is how ICT-embedded solutions, particularly Tangible User Interfaces, can meet the needs of a growing number of ageing smart worker in terms of inclusion, and of social, physical and mental wellbeing to sustain a team spirit, maintain team cohesion by offering sensory user experience and a tactile interaction with digitized work.The general objective of the research project presented in this article is to develop ICT-embedded devices based on TUIs, aimed at aging smart workers, with following objectives:fostering communication and interaction with the digital world through a tactile experience;increasing the organization, motivation, and job satisfaction; promoting work-life balance to increase physical and mental wellbeing. The result consists of a digital devices’ system, that can interact with each other and with users through a dedicated application for mobile. The system allows to improve the smart workers experience and their well-being through:empowerment, with the introduction of a "digital personal coach" who accompanies the worker during the performance of the activities;enhancement of concentration by providing for the performance of only one activity at a time to increase the overall efficiency of the worker;work-life balance improvement, with a better management of the balance between working and private dimensions;communication and collaboration facilitation with other colleagues;reduction of technological abundance through the use of tangible interfaces;exploitation of peripheral interaction to reduce the risk of loss of concentration during activities.1.European Commission - Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs: The 2015 Ageing Report. Underlying Assumptions and Projection Methodologies. European Economy 8-2014 (2014). 2.Giakoumis, D., Votis, K., Altsitsiadis, E., Segkouli, S., Paliokas, I., & Tzovaras, D.: Smart, personalized and adaptive ICT solutions for active, healthy and productive ageing with enhanced workability. In: 12th ACM International Conference on PErvasive Technologies Related to Assistive Environments, pp. 442-447. Association for Computing Machinery, New York (2019).3.Ilmarinen, J. (2012). Promoting active ageing in the workplace. European Agency for Safety and Health at Work.

Keywords: Tangible interfaces, Inclusion, Human wellbeing, Design innovation

DOI: 10.54941/ahfe1001871

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