Motivating the elderly to be more active


There are 1.5 million persons aged 75 and above in the Netherlands, and of these elderly people, the majority of them face two endemic problems – they move too little and they often feel lonely. However, research shows that older people are inclined to exercise more when their friends and family supports and motivates them to do so. Therefore, together with Springlab, we designed and developed the Happy Walking project.

The Happy Walking ecosystem is a combination of a fitness tracker and mobile app that connects an older person with their family, to monitor activity and motivate them to be more active. Family members can leave encouraging messages and photos in their app, which the elderly users can then unlock and read as they reach specific milestones of activity throughout the day. In addition to the obvious health benefits for the older person, this system encourages family contact, making the older person feel more communicative and appreciated, and helps families to feel more bonded.



Throughout the process, we prototyped and iterated various ideas and assumptions (from concepts to interface types) and worked our way towards a final concept which we then built and tested in a pilot involving 30+ families.

There were a few key phases to the project, including:
1. Research
2. Concept development
3. Low/medium-fidelity prototypes
4. Development of functional high-fidelity prototypes
5. Pilot & assessment with 30+ families


Happy Walking consists of 3 parts, all custom designed and built. These are a Pebble smartwatch with an app that we created for the purpose, a mobile app for the elderly user, and a mobile app for the family. Each developed for iOS & Android.

We designed the interface to be circular as an analogue watch. Nodes represent messages. We explored many types of interfaces and this proved to be an easy way for the elderly, often not comfortable with graphical user interfaces.



After Springlab finished the user interviews and focus groups, we used their insights to concentrate on our role, the design, prototyping and development of a solution. We lead the project from the concept development, prototyping, user-experience and design, product development, to production for the pilot.

Together with

Client: Vitility
Partners: Springlab, Kenniscentrum Sport (investigation and pilot)


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