Focus on people when implementing digital technology

AUAS professor Somaya Ben Allouch advocates a people-oriented approach to digital technology

15 Jan 2020 11:57 | Centre for Applied Research FDMCI

Due to the increasing digitisation of society, the role of digital technology in innovation is becoming more and more important. Professor of Digital Life, Dr Somaya Ben Allouch, at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS) advocates more attention for digital technology based on a people-oriented design approach, specifically in the field of health and wellbeing. There should be a greater focus on humankind and our digital, social and physical environment. On 14 January 2020, she gave her inaugural lecture at the AUAS: Shaping Digital Life: Technology that cares.

To ensure that digital technology makes a positive contribution to health, wellbeing and participation, it must first of all become clear what people want and need in this area. Applied research into the design, use, implementation and evaluation process of digital technology for social wellbeing plays an important role in gaining insight into this.

Somaya Ben Allouch: “Technology is changing constantly because of the context in which it is used. As a result, research and application in specific contexts, taking into account both technological and human aspects, are crucial for the sustainable use of technology in health and wellbeing. More attention is also needed for new evaluation strategies of technology in health and wellbeing. Because of rapidly changing technology, often lengthy evaluation processes and unruly practice, applied research is needed to develop new evaluation methods.”

Integrated research

The research of the Digital Life professorship focuses on innovative, digital technology in which sensors, their data and creative methods for health, wellbeing and participation are developed and evaluated in collaboration with industry and professional practice. Education, research and circulation of knowledge are integrated, and are set up and carried out both within and outside the Amsterdam region.

A few nice examples of recent research projects are:

  • EyeBeacons – a navigation app to help visually impaired people find their way safely and easily in public spaces.
  • The Interactive Living Room (De Interactieve Woonkamer) – to enable people with dementia to live independently at home for longer (in Dutch).
  • PAUL – stimulating the physical activity of city dwellers through the use of personalised app technology.
  • Robot Pepper in the nursing home – to improve the quality of care in nursing homes.