Designing for agency and compassion: Critical reflections on technology to support physical activity in late life: A 'Get a Move on' thinkpiece

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


Contemporary policy on ageing overwhelmingly focuses on active ageing and the increase of disability-free years. Consequently, the research community has adopted an agenda that broadly addresses the issue through technology interventions that focus on deficits of older persons, who are often viewed as a homogeneous group, and little consideration is given to the relationship between the ageing body and physical (in)activity, the impact of the life course, and implications of the acceptance of life stages. As a result, technology interventions are potentially effective on a functional level, but simultaneously fail to consider personal and emotional aspects, resulting in prescriptive, standardised interventions rather than empowering systems that emphasize agency.
In this paper, we give an overview of ongoing discourses in critical gerontology questioning common approaches to ageing as decline and active ageing to adopt a broader perspective on technology and activity across the life course. We present findings from a systematic review of systems presented at leading venues in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and analyse to which extent the model of active ageing pervades existing research. We leverage the lenses of critical gerontology and sports science to examine existing systems (including our own work on playful technologies), and discuss shortcomings along with strengths of present research to help guide discourse and future work in HCI. Moving beyond critical analysis, this paper outlines challenges that need to be addressed in order to create technology that offers room for the lived experiences of older adults, and empowers them to re-gain ownership of their embodied experiences of physical activity.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date25 May 2017
Number of pages26
Publication statusPublished - 25 May 2017
Event1st GetAMoveOn Annual Symposium: Leveraging Technology to Enable Mobility and Transform Health - London, United Kingdom
Duration: 24 May 201725 May 2017


Conference1st GetAMoveOn Annual Symposium
CountryUnited Kingdom
Internet address

Number of downloads are based on statistics from Google Scholar and

No data available

ID: 180994591