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Large-scale project: Digital solutions for an increasingly aging society

10 June 2021 | By: Pressestelle EBS Universität
Julia Krönung

Prof. Julia Krönung is a member of the team working on the large-scale project SMART-AGE.


Prof. Julia Krönung is a member of the team working on the large-scale project “Smart Ageing in a Municipal Context: investigating Intelligent Forms of Self-Regulation and Co-Regulation under Real Conditions” (SMART-AGE), which is coordinated by Heidelberg University and funded by the Carl Zeiss Foundation with approximately 4.5 million euros. In this interview, Julia Krönung introduces the project and her role, and shares when the first results can be expected.

EBS: What is the aim of the project, Ms Krönung?

JK: The project is aimed at investigating the mega trends of digitisation and demographic change. To this end, the effect of networking different intelligent assistance systems is being examined as a forward-thinking option for supporting older people’s quality of life as far as possible. The key theory of SMART-AGE is that intelligent assistance systems, especially when networked, can have an optimal complementary impact on the several dimensions of quality of life in older age. Thus, the investigation focuses on whether this networking of selected systems can promote and support older people in their quality of life in a special way.

EBS: What exactly is your role?

JK: As Professor of Business Information Systems I am responsible for the subproject researching into IT acceptance. For the survey participant target group there is hardly any empirically based research in literature dealing with IT acceptance. Generally speaking, literature concerning IT acceptance assumes that older people, due to their lack of IT skills and, in consequence, low usage, normally avoid using IT systems. Together with my colleagues Ms Sophie Kliemisch and Mr Markus Nöltner, we are investigating the starting point of the survey participants’ IT acceptance. We will be measuring the results both during the project’s defined period and beyond. This enables us to recognise change in terms of acceptance, but also in terms of the interaction between acceptance and general well-being, and to understand motivation.

EBS: What is your methodical approach?

JK: We will conduct our research based on the data gained on participants’ system usage as well as quantitative questionnaires. In addition, we have the opportunity to observe emotions and behaviour in the home environment, among other things through feedback from the survey participants. Thus, in the area of effective and adaptive use of IT by older people, we also have the opportunity to investigate the feedback of older people’s own experiences of success with new IT and their future willingness to use it, which has not generally been examined in IT acceptance research. To investigate the longer-term acceptance of IT, the surveys take place at regular intervals in a longitudinal study design.

EBS: When do you expect the first results?

JK: We can expect first results after collecting the primary data on the initial situation. Provided everything goes according to plan, this will be by the end of this year.

EBS: Among other things, you will be using apps. However, many senior citizens have issues dealing with new types of technology. How will the senior citizens become acquainted with this technology?

JK: First of all, I would point out that this is a stereotype. The user group of older people is extremely heterogenous. Our study participants are 67 and older. In this age group the number of IT users is already very different from that of much older people. We can assume that some of the survey participants already have experience in working with IT. The introduction of the “new technology” will be the same for all participants. The project’s PhD students will roll out the technology and introduce it to the survey participants.

EBS: Have own apps been developed?

Yes and no, it is based on apps, or existing apps have been adapted. The apps we are working with have been or are still being scientifically investigated and adapted according to our needs and those of our survey participants.

EBS: To what extent has the Corona pandemic impacted your research? For instance, also on the cooperation with other scientists?

JK: Up till now, the workshops in the consortium and the communication among the scientists have taken place online. Until now, it has not been possible for the entire research consortium to meet live. So, we welcome new PhD students or post docs at the big online meetings using the wave feature on Zoom. But we are optimistic about the future. It is planned to celebrate the start of the project in a ceremony in October/November, then with the complete consortium attending. So, keep your fingers crossed!

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