TR-IIS-05-007    Fulltext   Copyright @ July 2005

User Scenarios and Designs Of Smart Pantry, Object Locator and Walker’s Buddy: Consumer Electronics for the Elderly

Jane W. S. Liu, B. Y. Wang, C. W. Hsueh, and Y. H. Liao Institute of Information Science Academia Sinica, Taiwan

C. S. Shih, T. W. Kuo, and A. C. Pang W. H. Chen, Y. T. Liu, and H. C. Yeh Department of Computer Science and Information Engineering National Taiwan University, Taiwan

T. S. Chou and C. Y. Huang Department of Computer Science National Tsing-Hua University, Taiwan

J. K. Zao Department of Computer Science and Information Engineering National Chiao-Tung University


In the recent decade, declining birth rate and increasing average life span have led to significant growth in the over-60 fraction of population in developed and developing countries. One can easily deduce from this trend the growing need and business opportunity for consumer electronic appliances and services designed to improve the quality of life and safety of the elderly. Representative devices of this kind include smart pantry, object locater and walker’s buddy. A smart pantry holds household supplies, inventories its own contents, and automates the purchasing and delivery of the supplies stored in it. An object locater can help its user find personal and household items such as keys, glasses and remote control. A walker’s buddy scans pavement and alerts the user of steps and obstacles ahead. While such devices are motivated by the needs and desires of the elderly, busy and absent-minded people of all ages can also enjoy their services.

The report describes typical user scenarios of these devices. It also describes and evaluates alternative designs. The designs using only today’s technologies are less than ideal in usability and robustness. The advances needed to significantly improve the devices are in near horizon. The report identifies the shortfalls in technology for each of the devices.