Seniors’ Info-Inclusion Through Interactive Television: Results of a
Field Trial
Telmo Silva
, Hilma Caravau
, Jorge Ferraz de Abreu
and Liliana Reis
Department of Communication and Arts, University of Aveiro,
Campus Universitário de Santiago 3810-193, Aveiro, Portugal
CIC.DIGITAL/Digimedia, University of Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal
Keywords: Seniors, Interactive Television, +TV4E, Field Test.
Abstract: Television platforms are becoming more relevant due to multiple factors, namely the interactive features that
can be provided. Interactivity can effectively support citizens’ problems and needs and open a range of
opportunities in several society’s sectors. One of these opportunities is related to seniors’ level of information.
In this framework, to improve Portuguese seniors’ info-inclusion in subjects such as social and public services,
the +TV4E project aims to develop an Interactive Television (iTV) platform to broadcast personalized content
regarding these topics. This paper presents the process and the results of the +TV4E prototype evaluation
considering usability and functionality. The platform was made available to a sample of seniors that used it
for five weeks in their homes. After this period, the research team applied an evaluation scale and a
questionnaire survey to collect data. Despite the high level of usability depicted in results, it was also possible
to identify a set of features that should be improved in the final iTV platform.
Today's societies are increasingly embedded in the
available technology solutions and products, with
significant consequences for the consumer
behaviours and life styles (Van Woensel et al., 2015).
With the spread of technologies in the last decades,
comes the growing to assure that products and
services are easy to use, especially to newbie users or
to people with lower levels of digital literacy.
Furthermore, all the technological solutions
developed should be designed and developed
according to the needs and expectations of their target
audience, thus improving their efficiency and
efficacy (Silva, Caravau and Campelo, 2017). This is
even more important when the products aim to
achieve a particular segment of the population with
specific requirements, as in the case of older people.
The significant increase in the number of older
citizens' all around the globe, a trend that will persist
according to projections (United Nations, 2017),
creates a wide range of opportunities in the field of
technological solutions for the elderly. The high
volume of technological innovations related to
seniors’ needs that have appeared shows that this is a
dynamic area. To counter difficulties experienced by
seniors in maintaining their information levels,
technologies may help by spreading information
throughout means which elderly are already familiar
with. Also, it is important to guarantee that the
experience is efficient and pleasant for the individual,
which will help to ensure the acceptance of the
A supportive environment can help older people
to continue doing their daily activities and start doing
new things, thus enhancing their quality of life. The
promotion of older adults’ well-being, autonomy,
independence and quality of life through technology
has already encouraged the creation of dozens of
innovative solutions for seniors. Technologies have a
long tradition in helping seniors with physical
impairments but they are also currently recognized as
an important support for the promotion of social life
(Harrington and Harrington, 2000). In 2012 with the
“European Year of Active Ageing and Solidarity
Between Generations 2012” a Portuguese action plan
was created to develop several projects that support
individuals aged over 50 in the national context. As
an example, the SEDUCE project (Ferreira, Veloso
and Mealha, 2013), aimed to assess the impact of the
Silva, T., Caravau, H., Ferraz de Abreu, J. and Reis, L.
Seniors’ Info-Inclusion Through Interactive Television: Results of a Field Trial.
DOI: 10.5220/0006730201340141
In Proceedings of the 4th Inter national Conference on Information and Communication Technologies for Ageing Well and e-Health (ICT4AWE 2018), pages 134-141
ISBN: 978-989-758-299-8
2019 by SCITEPRESS Science and Technology Publications, Lda. All rights reserved
use of ICT in older adults’ emotional variables. This
type of products should address a real need in a simple
and trustable way. To achieve a high level of
acceptance users’ opinion should be considered
during development. Obviously, if seniors were
already familiar with the solution, the adaptation
process would be easier.
In Portugal, television (TV) is one of the most
used media platforms with high importance in
seniors’ way of living (Silva, Caravau and Campelo,
2017). The numbers reveal that, in average, people
with 65 years or more watch TV for 5 hours and 8
minutes per day (Marktest Group, 2011). The high
consumption of TV contents is recognized, both for
people living in their homes, which constitutes the
second most time consuming activity for seniors, and
for institutionalized people, which it is the
predominant activity (Martins, 2010).
TV has the potential to reach a large population
segment and considering this there are several
projects developed with the aim of broadcasting
specific information to the elderly citizens through
TV, thus helping them to age at their homes.
There are some projects in the scope of iTV
aiming to promote physical and psychological well-
being for the seniors. Med-Reminder (Stojmenova et
al., 2013) is a health project designed to inform
people when they should take their medication and
make emergency calls to health professionals. The
VitalMind project developed an iTV application that
provides cognitive training for seniors aiming to slow
the psychological and cognitive ageing. Finally,
iNeighbourTV (Abreu, Almeida and Silva, 2013)
allows its users to organize information about medical
exams and alerts caregivers of potential emergencies,
and it also includes a social component where it is
possible to make calls and send text messages.
Most seniors want to live at home as long as possible,
which sometimes is not possible due to health,
physical and social limitations that naturally appear in
advanced ages (Schneider and Irigaray, 2008). These
limitations make seniors depend on their caregiver's
network. Despite that, those limitations can
sometimes be overcome with a little help from
technological solutions. According to Rosenberg
(2013) and colleagues one of the most important
principles when designing innovations for seniors, is
the co-creation process. This means that potential
end-users are engaged since the initial stages of the
product development. This participatory design
process also helps to assure high levels of usability
benefiting the user experience (UX), which in turn
increases the probability of acceptance and success of
the technical services and devices (Madan and
Dubey, 2012).
The usability concept emerged in 1980’s and has
often been associated with the ability of a product to
be easily used (Martins et al., 2013). Throughout time
many definitions have surged for the usability
concept. Each model includes sub-attributes that
should be accomplished to guarantee the usability of
the software. In 1998 the International Organization
for Standardization (ISO) created a model consisting
of three basic sub attributes, namely effectiveness,
efficiency, and satisfaction (ISO 9241-11). In 2001
ISO 9126 defines the following sub attributes of
usability: understandability, learnability, operability,
attractiveness and usability compliance (Madan and
Dubey, 2012).
As referred in the literature review carried out by
Martins and colleagues (2013), improving the
usability presents several benefits, such as: increasing
effectiveness and efficiency; increasing productivity;
reducing the number of user errors; decreasing the
training needs; improving the level of acceptance;
supporting users with less technology literacy skills
and supporting users with disabilities. Usability’s
evaluation consists of interactive cycles of design,
prototyping, and validation (Dix et al., 2005). Taking
this and the co-creation aspect into account,
developing a product or service with inputs from
potential end users may represent an advantage to
overcome the usability challenges. Usability should
be assessed through an evaluation process, with one
or more available methods, for example, inspection,
empirical testing or questionnaire (Madan and Dubey,
2012; Martins et al., 2013).
The methodology applied to data collection
should consider the specificities of the target
population, and the research team should be flexible
to understand if the applied technique is the most
adequate both to the population and to the data under
evaluation. Despite there are no clear and established
standard rules about how to test technologies targeted
to elderly, there are some authors who have shared
their experiences and provided recommendations for
further testing (Demirbilek and Demirkan, 2004;
Swallow et al., 2016).
The USERfit tool is a methodology oriented to the
development of usability and accessibility
specifications, created for the Assistive Technology
Seniors’ Info-Inclusion Through Interactive Television: Results of a Field Trial
field that supports the Design for All (Abascal et al.,
2002). USERfit is composed by seven protocols that
allow the design team to collect, evaluate and develop
information to construct a product specification.
Developing tests with the elderly allows to better
understand the potential of a specific technology and
can help to define what challenges must be overcome
for success. Tests can be implemented under a set of
controlled conditions in laboratory or in the natural
environment. With the inputs collected through
product tests in a “real life” background, it is possible
to create a “problem list” with valuable information
for developers and designers that helps them shape
the solution according to the precise requirements of
the ageing population (Rauterberg, 2017). Initiatives
that test technologies in a real context with people
along a specific period of time, during which the
person uses the system autonomously with no
supervision have several benefits in comparison to
laboratory tests, like a better understanding of the
users’ reactions in their familiar environment (space,
objects, dynamics, routines, etc). This type of
experiences allows the researchers to collect a lot of
detailed data and find social facts that may not be
immediately obvious or that the participants may be
unaware of (Rauterberg, 2017). However, field trials
also have some drawbacks, like requiring a high
degree of effort and engagement from the users,
which sometimes can be difficult to encourage. The
equipment also has to be installed at participants’
home, causing some practical implications. It is also
known that having adequate support when problems
occur is crucial for the field trials success
(Rauterberg, 2017).
In spite of the pros and cons, the test phase is very
important, and should never be neglected, not only to
measure the usability aspects of the system's user
interface, but also to identify other specific problems
(Madan and Dubey, 2012).
Taking in consideration the course of TV
technologies for seniors and the importance of testing
these types of solutions, the +TV4E project and the
field tests carried out in its scope are presented in the
next section.
It is common for Portuguese citizens of all ages to
face difficulties when it comes to accessing and
understanding information concerning social and
public services (Silva, Caravau and Campelo, 2017).
This is especially problematic when referring to the
elderly, a situation that causes high levels of
informational dependency on their formal and
informal caregivers (Silva et al., 2016).
Taking into consideration the seniors’
informational needs related to social and public
services, the +TV4E platform is currently under
development and consists in an iTV platform, running
in android set-top box (STB), with the purpose of
promoting the info-inclusion and improve the quality
of life of Portuguese seniors through the transmission
of video spots, presented on TV, with informative
content about these services. The information
presented in the videos is aggregated into seven
macro-areas of interest, previously studied, titled
Assistance Services of General Interest for Elderly
(ASGIE) (Silva, Caravau and Campelo, 2017). These
seven areas are: (1) health care and welfare services;
(2) social services; (3) financial services; (4) culture,
informal education and entertainment; (5) security
services; (6) local authority services and (7) transport
For each ASGIE, there are informative online
sources defined, in which the system checks regularly
if there is new informational content that could feed
the platform. In its majority, the sources feeding the
platform’s informative contents belong to highly
credible and reliable sources, specifically
governmental web sources. To achieve this, an
algorithm selects content from different web sources
and builds audio-visual pieces on its own.
After the video spots’ creation, which includes an
audio track narrating the news content, the system
injects it into the linear television presentation flow.
At this moment, the regular TV broadcast is locally
paused and later resumed after the presentation of the
informative video.
When the informative content is sent to a STB it
triggers a notification on the screen allowing two
options, visualize or ignore the video (Figure 1).
The notification remains present on screen during
three minutes and a half, however after the initial 30
seconds it is minimized to reduce the intrusive
Figure 1: New informative content notification.
ICT4AWE 2018 - 4th International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies for Ageing Well and e-Health
It should also be observed that when the STB is
turned on, a splash screen is shown with contextual
elements: a greeting based on the time of the day;
information regarding the weather (temperature and
an icon that visually represents the weather); the time
and date; the current season.
All the video spots available in the +TV4E
platform have the same structure, typically composed
by an introduction animation, the informative content
itself and a closing animation.
Additionally, there is a video library that gives the
user access to the videos generated in the last five
days, categorized as seen and unseen.
All the elements and functionalities available in
the high-fidelity prototype were defined through a
participatory design process with seniors. The design
and development of a technical solution should
consider that it is important that the product improves
user's life in an easy and intuitive manner. In this
context the aim of this study is to evaluate the
usability, usefulness and aspects to improve in the
+TV4E platform.
In addition to this introduction, this article is
organized in the following parts: section 3 which
illustrates the methodological steps followed for data
collection; section 4, where the obtained results are
presented in detail and discussed and, finally, section
5 presents the main conclusions and future steps for
the +TV4E project.
To collect information for the improvement of the
+TV4E platform field tests were carried out in the real
context with a reduced sample of seniors. The results
from these tests will help to identify the aspects that
should be adjusted in the platform. This test occurred
after a set of previously developed steps, summarised
in Figure .
In the first phase, the research team aimed to
analyse and define several key aspects: the areas in
which Portuguese elderly feel lack of information; the
most appropriate web sources to feed the information
areas, and the functionalities of the platform (Silva,
Caravau and Campelo, 2017). The compilation of this
information allowed the creation of a first prototype.
In the second phase, the developed prototype was
evaluated by a group of seniors, through a focus
group methodology, focusing on the audio-visual
elements and functionalities (Silva, Caravau and
Campelo, 2017). This phase allowed the
identification of major problems in the seniors’ point
of view, which after were corrected by the
developers. At the end of this process, the research
team created the high-fidelity prototype which had
almost all the predefined functionalities
implemented, with the audio-visual elements adjusted
according to the elderly’s suggestions. To complete
the platform’s evolution and evaluation process,
towards the fully functional iTV platform, a field test
with a sample of seniors was performed in their
natural environment. To further improve the
platform, this field test aimed to give people the
possibility to use the platform freely and without time
constraints, since it is only possible to detect specific
problems that may arise during a continuous use.
Figure 2: Timeline of developed phases.
The field trial carried out in this work consisted of
three stages: (1) a first moment, where research team
elements went to the participants’ home to explain the
project’s goal and install the platform; (2) follow-up
phone questionnaire survey; (3) final data gathering
and collection of the installed material.
Participants who joined the study received, in this
initial face-to-face moment, an information guide of
the iTV application. Study objectives and aspects
related to data collection were orally explained. All
participants were given the opportunity to request
further information on the study and were informed
about the possibility to withdraw at any time without
any personal injury and without further justification.
After this, each person was asked to sign and date an
informed consent, furthermore a sociodemographic
data questionnaire was applied. The installed STBs
offer seven channels, as is practiced in Portuguese
Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT). During the time
of this field trial, the high-fidelity prototype tested in
the participants’ home, only generated videos in five
of the seven ASGIE: health care and welfare services;
financial services; culture, informal education and
Seniors’ Info-Inclusion Through Interactive Television: Results of a Field Trial
entertainment; security services; and local authority
services. Social and transport services did not have
available web sources to produce news.
In this initial moment, participants had the
opportunity to explore the platform alongside one
researcher that, after a first utilization without any
help, answered all questions about the system asked
by the participant. In the second phase, a follow-up
phone questionnaire was conducted aiming to
preserve a frequent contact with the participants as
well as to record incidents or events that may occur.
Sometimes this is an often-neglected aspect and not
referred in final projects prototypes’ evaluation.
Moreover, this phone call intended to promote the
trust relationship between researcher and participant
maintaining the individual's engagement with the
project. A questionnaire survey (Quivy and
Campenhoudt, 1995) and the Post-Study System
Usability Questionnaire (PSSUQ) were applied on
stage three, five weeks after the field tests begun. The
PSSUQ, a tool to evaluate the usability of the high-
fidelity prototype, allows the gathering of results
concerning usability and perception of utility and thus
it was selected.
The PSSUQ is an instrument that assess the user
satisfaction with system usability (Lewis, 2002). It
consists of 19 items rated on a 7-point scale ([1]
strongly agree; [7] - strongly disagree) in which the
lowest scores indicate better usability. The PSSUQ
consists of an overall satisfaction scale and three
subscales: system usefulness - SysUse (items 1–8);
information quality - InfoQual (items 9–15); and
interface quality - IntQual (items 16–18) (Lewis,
2002). The final score in these three subscales is
achieved through the mean of the corresponding
items for each one. The final score of overall
satisfaction scale is the mean of item 1 to 19 (Lewis,
2002). The PSSUQ was validated to the European
Portuguese version, with positive results of
psychometric evaluation (Rosa et al., 2015). Among
the several methods used to evaluate usability,
PSSUQ was selected due to the success achieved by
other authors to evaluate iTV systems for seniors (
Ribeiro et al., 2015).
After PSSUQ, a questionnaire was applied. This
questionnaire was essential to collect qualitative data
concerning the usefulness, aspects that users found
that should be improved and their satisfaction levels.
This questionnaire was constructed by the research
team, with open-ended questions, which were written
down by the researcher based on the participant’s
The sample of this study was selected by
convenience (Carmo and Ferreira, 2008). For the
selection of the sample, inclusion criteria considered
were age over 60 years; watches TV regularly; lives
in Aveiro area and neighbouring cities and provides
informed consent. Participants needed to have a TV
with High-Definition Multimedia Interface input to
connect the STB provided, as well as an internet
The sample was composed of four homes
contexts, in which each house was composed of two
individuals (n=8), with four females (50%) and four
males (50%) with an averaging age of 71. The two
elements of each dwelling where a couple, thus the
marital status of all were “married”. Around 25% of
the sample completed the higher education and the
remaining the medium literacy levels. On average,
each individual watches 3 hours and 45 minutes of
TV per day and all have pay TV services. Concerning
the use of the operator’s STB four participants said
they do not use any of the box’s available features,
and the remaining referred: view the upcoming
schedule (n=3); rewatch past TV broadcasts (n=2)
and schedule recordings (n=1). The most frequently
watched programs categories were: news (n=8),
entertainment (n=6), documentary programs (n=3),
sports (n=3) and soap opera/TV series (n=3). All
participants said they did not need help from others
while watching TV.
During the questionnaire survey, the research team
identified one house, with two participants that over
time showed disinterest in using the platform.
Concerning this disengagement situation, it was
determined that these participants should not be
considered in the results since it was not possible to
collect the desired data. Also, one participant (a
member of a couple) did not answer both the PSSUQ
and the questionnaire survey because since he had
access to a pay TV service with more interesting (in
the participants opinion) channels, he declared that he
did not use the platform. In this section, it will be
presented and discussed the results of the data
collected through the follow-up questionnaire survey
applied and the PSSUQ (n=5), after five weeks of
participants' use.
5.1 Questionnaire Survey
The final questionnaire applied was composed by 16
questions. All the participants (n=5) said that the
platform could be useful, both for themselves and for
others, to stay updated and engaged with their
surrounding context. These opinions corroborate with
ICT4AWE 2018 - 4th International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies for Ageing Well and e-Health
what some authors have been saying about the
seniors’ need to be aware of what is happening in the
surrounding environment, allowing them to age well
and to be socially included (Everingham et al., 2009;
Silva, Caravau and Campelo, 2017). All the elements
of the sample also agreed that the splash screen
(Figure 1) is an important feature. Besides allowing
time orientation, in a simple and visual way, this
feature also provides updated daily information of
seniors’ interest. The decline in cognitive functions
can indicate the emerging of cognitive impairments,
but the normal cognitive ageing may also entail some
cognitive slow down (Spar and La Rue, 2005).
Concerning this, the splash screen seems to be an
important informative screen.
Regarding the ASGIE categories in which the
platform offers information, one participant referred
that the available ASGIE are enough while, the other
four participants mentioned that they would like to
see contents on other subjects, namely about sports
(n=2) and decoration activities (n=1). These inputs
allowed a better understanding of the relevance that
leisure activities represent in seniors’ daily living but
allowed also to infer that seniors understood the
existence of content specific areas. Although, this
type of information is outside the scope of social and
public services, which are the key information areas
of the project.
Regarding the notification that appears when a
new video is available (Figure 1 and Figure 2), the
following features were analysed with the sample:
perceptibility of the icon size; text readability (font
type and size); perceptibility of which button should
be pressed to start watching the video, considering the
visual hint. Most of the sample considered that all the
elements are perceptible and easy to understand. Only
one person mentioned that the notification’s icon
should be bigger. The voice-over (female gender),
font type and size (Tiresias Screenfont at 55 pts) of
the text presented during the informative videos (Reis
et al., 2017) were perceived with no difficulty by the
five participants. The background images and the low
volume background music present in the video spots
were not considered problematic elements for the
content understanding. These results are expected
since those elements were firstly designed based on
literature guidelines and then discussed and validated
with a group of seniors in a participatory design
process (Reis et al., 2017;). Despite these positive
answers, the voice-over was considered monotonous
by one of the participants. The five participants
classified the time interval between videos as
“acceptable”. The entire sample also considered the
video library (Figure 1) a useful extra feature, with
two participants (40%) using this tool to watch
“unseen videos”, while the other three (60%) to
visualize “seen” and “unseen” video spots. These
results reveal that the easy and fast access to available
content is highly appreciated by +TV4E platform’s
potential end users. Only one participant, denoted
problems in using the remote control, saying that
sometimes it did not reply instantly to the click (e.g.
Sometimes I tried to change the channel and it would
not work”). After some tests carried out by the
developers, it was noticed that this problem was
related to the internet connection available in the
participant’s house.
When the participants were asked “Have you ever
felt disoriented and/or confused with the operation
system, losing the control over what happened on the
TV? they replied with twono and threeyes.
Two of the participants who answered positively said
that sometimes the video stops without any reason
and they do not know how to react (“The video and
the image stop several times and I do not know what
to do”). The other person referred that in the
beginning of the field test, had some difficulties in
realizing how the STB remote control works, but by
end of the field test, it became an easy and intuitive
task. All the participants expressed that if the platform
is available without financial costs they will use it.
Furthermore, all the participants had the opportunity
to add observations that are not included in the
questionnaire. Only one person referred that the
minimization process of the notification, which
informs about the availability of new content, is very
fast (defined as 30 seconds after the notification
Results from the PSSUQ showed that the participants
were satisfied with the usability of the +TV4E
platform (see
Table 1).
Table 1: Results of PSSUQ subscores (n=5).
Mean SD
Overall satisfaction
2,24 0,49
System usefulness (SysUse) 2,04 0,59
Information quality
2,48 0,37
Interface quality (IntQual)
2,20 0,80
Analysing the results by subscale, the lowest average
was for “System usefulness” and the highest for
“Information quality”. When analysing each question
of PSSUQ, the lowest score was question number 15
“The organization of information on the system
screens was clear” (mean=1,6; SD=0,55) and with the
highest observed is question number 10 “Whenever I
made a mistake using the system, I could recover
easily and quickly” (mean=3,6; SD=1,52). It was
clear that the highest average obtained in question
Seniors’ Info-Inclusion Through Interactive Television: Results of a Field Trial
number 10 reflects that improvements in the system
should be addressed. For example, the system may
generate and send automatic messages when the
video stops playing due to internet connection
problems, something that was not happening at the
time. This will help the user to clearly understand the
error that is occurring. If the results are analysed
disaggregated by participants, the person with the
lowest scores on all the subscales classified: “Overall
satisfaction” (mean=1,64); “System usefulness”
(mean=1,45); “Information quality” (mean=1,95);
“Interface quality” (mean=1,33). The participant with
the highest results in almost all subscales achieved:
“Overall satisfaction” (mean=2,83); “System
usefulness” (mean=2,79); “Information quality”
(mean=2,64); “Interface quality” (mean=3,33).
The main goal of the field tests was to collect inputs
from a group of seniors in their real use context,
concerning the functionalities available in the +TV4E
high-fidelity prototype.
This study allowed the research team to assess the
usability and the functions that should be improved in
the platform, through the administration of PSSUQ
and a questionnaire survey. Despite the reduced size
of the sample, a recognized limitation of the study, it
was possible to collect several valuable data
concerning system usage. It is mandatory for the
research process that more field tests are carried out
with improved versions of the +TV4E. Although, the
achieved results reveal interesting inputs for the
upgrading of +TV4E high-fidelity prototype.
Regardless of the high usability’s levels obtained
in PSSUQ, some components should be improved.
Error messages should appear whenever the system
crashes. Also, the best way to provide messages that
help the user to recover easily and quickly from
unexpected situations should be analysed. Most of the
issues that arose during the field tests were related to
internet connection problems. To assess this issue, a
more reliable internet connection and with more
bandwidth should be used. The complaint of the
voice-over being monotonous tone will encourage the
developers to further improve the Text-To-Speech
solution. The developed software must have
mechanisms that increase the reliability of the
platform functionalities, thus minimizing potential
errors (e.g. misclassifying videos in the video
After improving the high-fidelity prototype,
according to the gathered inputs, the team plans to do
new field tests with potential end users. The team also
plans to analyse some aspects that only one or two
participants considered important, such as to improve
the duration of the notification message and
functionalities available in the remote control.
The research leading to this work has received
funding from Project 3599 Promover a Produção
Científica e Desenvolvimento Tecnológico e a
Constituição de Redes Temáticas (3599-PPCDT) and
European Commission Funding FEDER (through
FCT: Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia I.P.
under grant agreement no. PTDC/IVC-
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