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D. Castilla1, M.A. Pérez-Ara2, A.M. Dragomir-Davis2, A. García-Palacios1, R.M. Baños3, F. Fernandez-Aranda4, C. Botella1

1Universitat Jaume I; CIBER de Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y Nutrición (CIBEROBN) (SPAIN)
2Universitat Jaume I (SPAIN)
3Universidad de Valencia; CIBER de Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y Nutrición (CIBEROBN) (SPAIN)
4CIBER de Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y Nutrición (CIBEROBN) (SPAIN)
Aging is often associated with cognitive impairment. Data from 2010 indicated that around 35.6 million people suffered of dementia, Western Europe being the most affected region (7.0 million people). Moreover, these numbers are estimated to double every 20 years (Prince et al., 2013). In the case of Mild cognitive impairment (MCI), prevalence range varies from 3% to 19% in elderly (Gauthier et al., 2006).

Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) can contribute to the wellbeing of the elderly, support their social interactions (e.g., Slegers, Boxtell, & Jolles, 2008) and contribute to their functional independence (Carpenter & Biday, 2007).

At present, ICT-platform named ehcoBUTLER system is being developed with support from the Horizon2020 (PHC-20-2014) of the European Commission, with the aim to improve the health and social care of elderly people, especially those with mild cognitive impairment, through self-learning and with the system support. It is derived from the “Butler System” (Botella et al., 2012) that was designed as an application based on Web technology and Virtual Reality (VR), whose main objective was to improve the mood of elderly, strengthen their social support network and improve their quality of life.

Therefore, a first step is to adapt and improve this technology to expand its use to elderly population with cognitive impairment. To do that, preliminary tests of usability with real users were conducted in each country of the consortium.

The aim of the present work is to describe the main design specifications from the ergonomics and usability point of view of the ehcoBUTLER system. Simplifying the graphical appearance and interface and increasing the size of the icons and the text are essential to improve the accessibility and usability of a system (Castilla et al., 2013). The system for the elderly has to be easy to use, but also didactic (Castilla et al., 2016), promoting the self-learning in elderly people.

First of all, the main design variable is the navigation style (linear). In fact, this type of navigation is the most similar to the navigation already known by these users (sequential, as in books), it restricts the user's freedom, and it prevents the inexperienced users from getting lost among multiple options (Castilla et al., 2016).

The system is structured as a main screen with the main menu showing the various applications with icons embedded in a circular area, emulating a button that can be pressed, along with its text label and the avatar, a Butler that provides the audio instructions in all the screens.

Applications included in the system are categorized in different modules:
1) “social tools”: videoconference, e-mail, book of life, and friends;
2) “leisure tools”: My memories (music and pictures) and Internet;
3) “Psychological tools”: walk in the nature (nature joy or nature relax with different exercises);
4) “Agenda”;
5) “Market” (games, educative applications, etc.); and
6) “Nutrition”.

As a result of these specifications from the ergonomics and usability point of view, it is expected that the ehcoBUTLER system can be adapted to the elderly, even if they suffer from cognitive impairment. The next step is to conduct broader usability tests to examine its suitability and adaptation to end-users.
Final expected results are to create a system that could break the technology barriers between elderly with MCI and the ICTs, so that the elderly can benefit from them.