Clíona O’Riordan1, Lorna Kenny1, Salvatore Tedesco2,Marco Sica2,Colum Crowe2, John
Barton2, Suzanne Timmons1, Brendan O’Flynn2
1Centre for Gerontology and Rehabilitation,University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
2Tyndall National Institute,University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
Background:Wearable technology is a fast developing area. Often, the focus of research is
on accuracy, while the practicalities of using the device may be overlooked, despite the fact
that this greatly influences utility. This scoping review therefore explored the design and
usability preferences of people for wearable technology for health monitoring.
Methods: A scoping review was conducted of literature evaluating user preferences for the
design of wearable technology systems, for people aged >50 years, with good health, or
Results: A search of relevant databases yielded 628 potential studies (after duplicates
removed). Following title/abstract and then full text screening, 17 papers were included.
The most commonly reported theme related to design and user interface (13 studies).
Users wanted a small, unobtrusive and light device which doesn’t snag on clothing or
affect activities of daily living, but yet has a readable and easy-to-use interface, which
may prove challenging for designers! Users were most happy to wear a device on the
wrist and/or hip region, being considered the least obtrusive / most discrete. Users were
open to the technology aspects of the device, but wanted specific training, or clear and
readable instructions. Less commonly reported parameters included issues with privacy and
ownership of data (two studies); cost (two studies); reliability and accuracy (three studies),
including being accurate overnight and in the shower, etc.; and clinical usefulness, i.e. the
data being effectively linked with other healthcare data. Where considered, participants
didn’t want to wear a device by night (two studies). Safety of wearable devices was not a
theme in any study.
Conclusion: Overall, user needs seem to be rarely considered in the design of wearable
technology for health monitoring. However, the limited studies do highlight important
user concerns, which should be considered by the technology designers and prescribers.