Intergenerational Codesign of Novel technologies In Coastal communities (ICONIC)

Digital inclusion

The Intergenerational Codesign of Novel technologies In Coastal communitites (ICONIC) project aims to improve digital inclusion both for older and younger people.

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 isolation.

Younger people may also have fewer opportunities to get involved in digital technologies in peripheral rural and coastal economies away from cities. Traditional industries such as farming, mining, fishing and port activity have declined in these regions and the University of Plymouth is working with partners to develop high-wage digital sector jobs in the South West.

ICONIC solutions

To improve digital opportunities in these coastal regions, the Centre for Health Technology (CHT) is leading the ICONIC interdisciplinary project, which will help people to connect to their communities and cultural landscapes.

The project aims to recruit 80 older (aged 50+) people, including both people living at home and those in care homes, and 40 younger (aged 16–20) people. Participants will work with researchers to codevelop novel technologies aimed at creating connections in the region.


For participants who have access to the internet, three strands of technology will be developed and used during the project. These are:
  • Extended reality, giving participants the ability to move around heritage sites and natural landscapes of cultural significance such as Tintagel Castle or the Eden Project
  • Social games, connecting older people (e.g. between care homes) based on local history, culture and environment
  • Underwater telepresence, enabling the user to explore and engage with our local underwater environment. 
A fourth strand will give digitally excluded older people without broadband telephone access by AI voice interface. This will enable them to use online resources such as museums and community groups to make connections with people.

<p>Eden Project</p>

Research methods

Workshops and interviews
Participants will be asked to join monthly workshops, in person or online over 18 months, receiving expenses and a participation certificate. Interviews will be thematically analysed and questionnaires will be used to assess changes 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 any consistency. 
Social enterprise group
We will set up a social enterprise group to work with our partner organisations and participants to demonstrate the technologies that have been used. This social enterprise will carry forward the development, sale (either to individuals or to organisations) and implementation of the technologies and the continued engagement of young people in this digital development. Demonstrations of the technologies will be made to audiences of 300–400 people.

<p>VR glasses worn by senior man. He adjusts the content shown before his eyes by pushing buttons on the side of the device.<br></p>