Senior couple looking at an iPad.


As society becomes ever more digital, those without access to technology are at risk of social isolation, with those that live in rural and coastal communities being particularly impacted.
Older people’s connection to community, groups and activities in their neighbourhood and cultural landscape are essential for social inclusion and healthy ageing.
In regions where traditional industries such as farming, mining, fishing and port activity have declined, younger people may also have fewer opportunities to get involved in digital technologies and careers.
The Intergenerational Codesign of Novel Technologies in Coastal Communities (ICONIC) is an interdisciplinary Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funded project delivered by the Centre for Health Technology which aims to improve digital inclusion for both groups and help them to connect to their communities and digital activity.

The Project 

The project aims to recruit 80 older (aged 50+) people including both those living at home and in care homes alongside 40 younger (aged 16-30) people. Participants will work together with researchers to develop new technologies aimed at creating connections within the region.
The following technology will be used and developed;
  • Extended reality: giving participants the ability to move around heritage sites and natural landscapes.
  • Social games: connecting older people (e.g. between care homes) based on local history, culture and environment.
  • Underwater telepresence: enabling users to explore and engage with underwater environments.
  • AI voice interface: allowing older people without broadband telephone access to online resources such as museums and community groups to make connections with people.
Older man playing video games with a young boy
Young women with a white t-shirt and denim top wearing a virtual reality headset, and holding VR controllers.  
Pexel: Tima Miroshnichenko

The Process 

Workshops and interviews 
Over 18 months participants will be able to join monthly workshops in person or online. Interviews and questionnaires will be used to understand;
  • Changes in digital use and confidence
  • Connectivity to community and culture
  • Young people’s interest in STEM subjects
  • Young people’s attitudes to older people
All participants will receive reimbursement and a participation certificate.

Social Enterprise 

A social enterprise will be set up to work with our partner organisations and participants to demonstrate the technologies that have been used.
This will carry forward the development and implementation of technologies, and to continue to engage with young people within digital development. 

Get in touch

Orange fish underwater. 
Pexels: Saad Alaiyadhi

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