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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/W024357/1
Title: Intergenerational co-creation of novel technologies to reconnect digitally excluded people with community & cultural landscapes in coastal economies
Principal Investigator: Jones, Professor R
Other Investigators:
Zhou, Professor S Asthana, Professor S Ifeachor, Professor E
Chatterjee, Professor A Gaudl, Dr SE ALY, Dr A
Maudlin, Professor D Howell, Professor KL Veliz Reyes, Dr A
Li, Dr C Willis, Professor K
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Dr R Baines Dr H Bradwell
Project Partners:
Age UK CIOS Digital Skills Partnership City College Plymouth
Cornish Mining World Heritage Cornwall AONB Cornwall Care
Cornwall College Cornwall Council Cornwall Museums Partnership
Eden Project Community Farming Health Hub Healthwatch
Hearing Loss Cornwall Hi9 Chatbot iSightCornwall
Made Open Minack Theatre Nudge Community Builders
PatientCards Ltd Plymouth City Council Plymouth Sound National Marine Park
South Asian Society (Devon and Cornwall) South Devon College The Abbeyfield Society
Department: Sch of Nursing & Midwifery
Organisation: University of Plymouth
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 November 2022 Ends: 30 April 2025 Value (£): 1,013,064
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Artificial Intelligence Human Communication in ICT
Robotics & Autonomy
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
09 Feb 2022 Equitable Digital Society Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Older people's connection with community, groups and activities in their neighbourhood and the cultural landscape, are essential for social inclusion and healthy ageing. As society becomes ever more digital those excluded are at risk of social exclusion. Peripheral rural and coastal economies such as Devon and Cornwall tend to have low productivity reflecting the shift in deprivation away from cities. Traditional industries such as farming, mining, fishing, and port activity have all declined. Alternative high-wage digital sector jobs have not emerged resulting in an exodus of younger people with higher qualifications.

The region has major assets of environment and heritage and a thriving third sector. We will develop novel technologies in games, extended reality, underwater telepresence, and artificial intelligence (AI) voice interfaces to use these assets to tackle digital exclusion. The multidisciplinary project will take an inter-generational approach to co-design technologies to connect digitally excluded people with community groups and the cultural landscape, while creating opportunities for excluded younger people in digital careers.

The academic team comprises a principle investigator with long track record in digital health inclusion, four early career researchers (games, digital arts, robotics, and AI), post-doc researchers (evaluation, co-design, eHealth and robotics), and advisors from arts and heritage, social policy, architecture, marine biology, and health informatics. A major strength is the extensive network of external partners including digital inclusion networks, businesses setting up village hubs, care home and sheltered housing chains, farming networks, museums, heritage and environmental sites, further education colleges, community groups from deprived and ethnically diverse communities, and organisations for sensory impaired people. This network has been built by our projects such as EPIC (Ehealth Productivity and Innovation in Cornwall) and GOALD (Generating Older Active Lives Digitally).

The 30 month project will work with 20 partner organisations, recruit 80 older (50+) people and 40 younger (16-20) people who will work with researchers to co-develop novel technologies helping participants to connect to community and cultural landscape in the region. Three strands of technology development will require access to broadband at home or in village halls: (i) enhanced virtual reality giving the ability to move around heritage sites and significant natural landscapes such as Tintagel Castle or Eden Project, (ii) social games connecting older people (e.g. between care homes) based on local history, culture and environment, (iii) underwater telepresence enabling the user to explore and engage with the Plymouth Marine Park. The fourth will give digitally excluded older people with no broadband, telephone access by AI voice interface to online resources such as museums and community groups. The 120 participants would join monthly workshops, in person or online, over 18 months receiving expenses and a participation certificate.

We will interview participants at beginning (expectations) and end (reflections). Interviews will be thematically analysed. Questionnaires will be used to assess change in digital use and confidence, connectivity to community and culture, young people's interest in STEM subjects and their attitudes to older people. We will compare interview findings with quantitative approaches to see if there is consistency.

We will set up a social enterprise which will work with our partner organisations and participants to demonstrate the technologies to regional and national audiences of 300-400. This social enterprise will carry forward the development, sale (either to individuals or to organisations) at low price, implementation of the technologies and continued engagement of young people in this digital development.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Organisation Website: http://www.plym.ac.uk