In the NETCARITY project, we conducted several complementary investigation activities with elderly people revolving around the design of technology for the home environment. In this paper, we investigate the potential impact of virtual characters in making the interaction with the technology-enhanced home more effective and engaging. We briefly discuss two experiences in using a virtual agent as an interface metaphor for a computer system targeted to elderly people with very low computer skill. The lesson that can be learned from those experiences is that a virtual agent may sometimes be effectively used to improve the acceptance of new technologies for this class of users. In particular, in settings characterized by a social interaction, where emotional stress is low (as with entertainment applications), the presence of a virtual character facilitates the acceptance of the technology by helping it to fit into the social environment. In the opposite case, in contexts where trust is an important factor or in life-threatening situations, a virtual agent is less likely to be credible.
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- Virtual Helper or Virtual Card Player? Contrasting Responses of Older Users
- Springer Berlin Heidelberg