Bridge is a mobile application that helps empty-nested seniors learn how to navigate the digital world.

With Bridge, seniors can learn and practice digital skills tailored to their needs, instructed by their distant family members. It bridges the digital gap between young people and elderlies, one family at a time.

what I did

user interview
visual design


Aug. - Oct. 2022


this is a personal passion project

Digital divide between young and old generations has been a great issue, especially for the empty-nesters.

Elderly members of the society often can’t embrace digital technology as easily as we can. This problem is especially pressing in my homeland China, where digitalized services are quickly replacing traditional ways of doing things. Moreover,  nearly 2/3 of elderly parents have their children living in other cities, which means they are often left alone in the dark.

My grand parents struggle with using smart phones all the time, especially during the pandemic when it becomes a necessity.

How might we make it easier for seniors who live alone to use smart phone applications ?
at a glance
Easy contact with
support community

Call a family member or local volunteer for help

Follow clear instructions via screen share

Helpers can give remote instructions of where to click and what to do next

tutorials to learn from

Helpers can give remote instructions of where to click and what to do next

To start off, I wanted to understand the difficulties elderlies are facing with digital technology

To identify the issues, I spent some time staying with my grandparents and recorded their daily activities that involved the use of mobile phone. I also followed up with short interviews with 6 more seniors to capture their thoughts and feelings.

After a few days of observation, I have to say that the problem is huge. Here is an excerpted list of the problems they had encountered in just 24 hours:

1. Don’t know how much money she has in the e-wallet 😵
2. Wanted to share content with friends but don’t know how 😵
3. Clicked into advertisements and get stuck there 🥵
4. Can’t scan the QR code because cellular network is switched off 😳
5. Can’t log in to his mobile banking app 🤯
6. .....

I used affinity diagram to categorize the issues and found four main categories of problem.

1. Heavy cognitive load
2. Insufficient guidance
3. Low sense of security & confidence
4. Low motivation to explore

Lacking guidance and support is one of the fundamental problems

While reflecting on my research discoveries, I noticed that seniors are constantly exploring the digital world through trial and error, lacking support at these points will significantly lower their confidence and cause this vicious cycle as illustrated below .

Many Chinese tech companies are already putting the effort to improve readability of their product by increasing text size or replace ambiguous icons with text. However, before all the apps on the market are 100% elderly friendly, instructional supports are still in need.

Therefore, I decide to create an online support system for them to rely on.

Further research
What are the current modes of remote help elderlies are receiving and why are they not effective enough ?

I continued to interview 5 more seniors and 5 caregivers to dig deeper into the ways they are currently coping with distant support. All of them have used the two methods below and have encountered several issues.

Problems with
Video chat & phone call

1. Lacking visual guidance
2. Helps are one-off but seniors will forget quickly afterwards
3. Caregivers can’t make long video calls while busy at work

Problems with
text & screenshots

1. fragmented information
2. time consuming
3. hard to keep record

Many interviewees mentioned that over half of the problems can’t be solved through texting, and will have to end in an in person help session.

To conclude

Most supports are one-off, hard to follow, not properly documented and with no record to look back at or practice with.

Young caregiver
1. Lack proper communication tools

Caregivers lack property tools to instruct seniors effectively

2. No time for repetitive teaching

Have little time respond to senior’s problems multiple times a day

3. Not informed of their problems

Caregivers lack property tools to instruct seniors effectively

1. Ambiguous instruction

Voice command through calls or photos through text are not clear enough

2. Forget things quickly

They have difficulty memorizing things therefore needs repetitive help

3. Afraid to bother

Think their children are busy and don’t want to bother them with minor issues

Idea No.1
What if caregivers can see their screen and point at places to guide elderlies along the way?

Remote screen control has been used widely during video conferences for instructions and annotation, it can also be used in the scenario of giving remote instructions.

Instructions like these are clear and easy to follow

What if caregivers can have handy tools that support easy connection and remote instruction

Idea No.2
What if these one-off helps can be turned into interactive tutorials so that seniors can access at any time afterwards?

Seniors tend to forget complicated steps quickly and feel bad for asking repetitively. Recording audio and visual guidance for them to access later may be of great help.

What if information can be synthesized from the recordings to generate step by step tutorials that are easy to follow

Idea No.3
What if simple tutorials are provided by the public that elderlies can learn by themselves without bothering others?

Asking for help is one way of expanding their digital skill sets, but there are many seniors who has great autonomy and enjoy learning by themselves rather than constantly bothering others.

Senior users can keep track on the skills they’ve learned and be able to search and save new skills that they want to learn.

What do seniors think of these concepts?

I turned these ideas into storyboards so that seniors can easily understand and give feedbacks

✅ Having recordings that they can practice on their own is considered very helpful

I got a lot of positive feedbacks on having tutorials they can access anytime and having voice and video recordings of each help session

✅  Being able to see their progress and have records of what they’ve learnt is nice

Being able to tracking their progress and revise them from time to time was considered useful for many interviewees.

🤔 Form of the tutorials determines whether or not it’s effective, which needs to be tested

Tutorial video, pictures and words and voice commands are all possible ways to give out remote instructions. I would like to experiment with these different approaches and compare their effectiveness.

Initial wireframe

After the validation phase, I moved on to flesh out the key wireframes and prepared to test on the key features with real user.

User testing
Round 1
Which form of tutorial should be generated for elderlies to follow ?

Before moving on to the details, I wanted to test out the effectiveness of different instruction methods by inviting senior users to try out different prototypes.

1. pictures and words

These step by step guides can go back and forth which is more tolerant to mistakes

2. video tutorial

Though video is closest to an in-person tutor, it is too fast and hard to relocate once lost

2. audio guide

Voice doesn’t interfere with visual which is nice,  but information needs to be very descriptive

2. Overlaid instruction

Step by step overlaid instruction provides the most accurate and direct information.

To conclude

I decided to use overlaid instruction + audio as the form of guidance if they want to follow along and actually complete a task

I also want to provide pictures and words as another option if they just want to watch and get familiarize with the steps

Round 2
Is the overall structure of the application easy enough to navigate?

I thought having one mega page that contains all entrances would have a lower cognitive load for seniors. However, during the testing session I found that they would spend a long time trying to read and find a feature on that page due to small subtitles and similar appearance

A dashboard model that contains all entrances
Group similar features into different pages and allow easier switching with a bottom navigation bar. Use simple verbs to name each section.
Second round
Seniors can call a family member or expert to start a live help session



1. Record

The system will voiceover your moves as you go, you can also expand to check visual cards of past steps

2. Troubleshoot

If the system records a wrong step, talk to the voice assistant to correct the move or correct it manually on the cards

3. Final check & edit

Double check and make edits at the end before generating the final tutorial.

Caregivers can create tutorials during each help session for seniors to save and review
If seniors forget the steps, they can find
and follow a tutorial
at any time


pic & audio

Essential skills are curated and everyone in the community is welcomed to add and share their tutorials
What I want to improve on

1. Technical viability

In order for interactive tutorials to work, the device has to record the gesture and coordinates of senior user's operations and compare that with caregivers' instructions. It is a challenge to reach perfect accuracy and I would love to further explore the technical aspect that would support this idea. I have came across several precedent work such as Evertutor (CHI 14)  and Synapse, which gave great examples of similar technical solutions.

2. Engage more stakeholders

After the validation phase, I moved on to flesh out the key wireframes and prepared to test on the key features with real user.

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