Digital scheme enhances elderly lives

With the aim of introducing elderly citizens to digital technology in ways that help them to lead healthy and enjoyable lives, the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) has been implementing an information & communications technology (ICT) outreach programme.


Interactive experiences
The office has collaborated with six non-profit organisations to provide a diverse range of initiatives for the elderly. These include using robots to conduct fitness classes, enabling users to explore the community remotely via virtual reality devices, and introducing various Gerontech products to elderly individuals in residential care homes and day centres, as well as during home visits.

 

OGCIO Chief Systems Manager (Industry Development) Brian Sun said: “The ICT Outreach Programme for the Elderly targets elderly people in care institutes, those receiving day care centre services and home care services, as well as hidden elderly and elderly with dementia.”

 

Organised by the Hong Kong Lutheran Social Service, one of the projects under the programme, “Hi Touch Fun Fun Lot”, offers users a wide range of engaging experiences involving virtual reality, mixed reality, and interactive technologies.

 

One popular element of the project is the use of an intelligent robot capable of dancing and interacting with participants. The robot brings joy but also serves as a motivational tool for the elderly to engage with technology.

 

Fun and games
One elderly participant, Mok Sau-chung, explained that the robot can perform dance steps and interact in a variety of different ways.

 

“Not only can it play football, it also knows how to sway its waist,” she said. “I used to exercise very little in the past, but now I can follow the robot’s footsteps and dance along. My feet have become more flexible too.”

 

Another participant, Chan Shu-wai, spoke glowingly of his experiences with three-dimensional virtual reality technology. “In virtual reality, I can fully immerse myself in the latest architecture, such as the buildings at West Kowloon Cultural District,” he said. “It is like personally touring the place.” 

 

Hong Kong Lutheran Social Service Chief Executive Annissa Lui said each piece of equipment used had been carefully selected to offer engaging and rewarding experiences.

 

“The use of intelligent robots helps to increase their motivation and learning interest, attracting them to engage with technology,” she said. “Different models with various functionalities are chosen. The robots can sing, dance, and even perform acrobatics, creating a joyful atmosphere.”



Another example of the scheme’s innovative approach is in its use of motion-sensing technology to offer not only digital gaming experiences but also physical activities such as fall prevention and balance training.

 

Expanding access
With the aim of extending ICT support to more of the elderly population, mobile outreach service stations have been set up in key locations frequented by seniors, such as housing estates, shopping malls, and parks. These stations serve as hubs for introducing commonly-used mobile applications and addressing queries related to smartphone usage.

 

As part of the outreach programme’s latest iteration, from 2023 to 2025, more than 300 mobile sessions are planned across the city. As of October this year, more than 60 sessions had been conducted, serving over 5,000 elderly people in various districts.


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