York U and Australia’s QUT researchers join forces for positive impact on globally distanced generations
Australian Research Council allots over AUD $750,000 in funding for the international team to develop interactive tools to increase closeness between older and younger relatives
As more and more people choose temporary and permanent relocation to other countries for economic and other reasons, and away from their close relatives, the already existing generational gap is widening. To help such families stay connected through innovative technologies such as mixed reality interactions while making positive impacts on both groups, a team of researchers from York University and Australia’s Queensland University of Technology (QUT) have joined forces.
They have recently received a more than AUS $750,000 grant under Discovery Projects from the Australian Research Council (ARC) — the country’s flagship federal funding agency — to explore ways to develop technologies that provide “playful and engaging” communications between generations. The project, Designing Distanced Intergenerational Interaction with Tangible Technology, will be developed over five years.
“We will look at creating innovative communication tools, including through immersive technology, to virtually narrow the distance between generations. Our goal is to help foster meaningful relationships between those who are geographically distanced and cannot experience the natural ways of relationship-building,” says Professor Shital Desai, Canadian lead on the project. “For example, between a child living with their parents in Australia and their grandparents in India or an aunt in Canada.”
The international project is led by Professor Althea Blackler, associate dean in the Faculty of Creative Industries, Education and Social Justice at QUT. The other Australian researchers in the project are QUT professors Bernd Ploderer and Jane Turner and lecturer Nicole Vickery; and Linda Knight, an associate professor in early childhood education at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.
The project will study inter-generational communication between people in Canada and Australia through an interdisciplinary lens of Human Centred Design, Interaction Design and Vision Science, according to Desai, who is a researcher in the department of Computational Arts in the School of Arts, Media, Performance and Design. Her York co-researchers are Professors Laurence Harris and Lauren Sergio, in the Faculty of Health.
Through the project, the team will aim to explore student exchange programs that will allow students in the two countries to collaborate with interdisciplinary and international teams of researchers.