Grey but Mobile

Enhanced Care Service through Improved Mobility for Elderly People (Grey But Mobile) was about improving care-related mobility services for the elderly supporting independent living and social connectivity. Importantly, the quantitative and qualitative effects of these proposed services have contributed to the improved health of the elderly as well as to the economic efficiency of care.

Today, elderly live in their homes longer, predominantly because of improved home care. For reasons of efficiency and costs, this is considered a good development, but it has a downside too. Elderly often live alone and solitude is regarded to be a main cause of health problems. Keeping elderly socially connected and involved, requires them to remain mobile. However, current mobility solutions do not cater specifically for this group.

Mobile-care projects are currently being initiated in the context of the organization of services. A major constraint is the availability of dedicated vehicle-designs and interfaces between services and the means of mobility. A new class of vehicles is envisaged that will specifically relate to the needs of this age group: mobile solutions that will match the environmental, physical, mental and societal needs of the elderly.

What questions were answered?
Teams from 3 universities and Industry partners were working together to answer the questions:

What role does mobility play in the social integration of the elderly and what are their physical mobility needs?
What artefacts are currently available for the mobility of the elderly, which functions do they fulfil, and what is their quality?
How does the service structure for the elderly currently function and what are the constraints?
What PSS solutions can be developed to address the findings?
How can technology be utilized to improve elderly mobility?
What will the effect of these solutions (PSS)  be on the elderly, themselves?

What have the teams achieved?
We have generate a body of knowledge to be used by the creative industry to develop a new range of mobility solutions. Designs, models prototypes were built and tested in natural environments to demonstrate feasibility of these emerging concepts. Additionally, disseminated information to national and international parties involved in this new field of sustainable mobility,

Timeframe and communication:
Grey But Mobile started in 2011 and finished in 2015. Throughout the project, we have published doctoral theses, articles in journals and conference proceedings. We have translated findings into value propositions for care-providers’ clients. Knowledge gained will be integrated into university and professional educational programmes. Progress will be published via this website and explored in workshops.

Who was involved?
Scientific partners: Twente University, Eindhoven University of Technology and the Design Academy Eindhoven;
Industry partners: Roessing Research,Tellens groep, Trivium Meulenbelt Zorg, Zuidzorg, De Loft, Indes, Arriva, Connexxion, Divaco, Waaijenberg.

Project leaders
dr. Lu Yuan, Eindhoven University of Technology
Ir. Marc Beusenberg, Twente University


  • Monitoring and Improving Mobility of the Elderly. Text is still confidential--

    Describes thesis of Simone Boerema

    Presented at the 8th International Conference on Pervasive Computing Technologies for Healthcare, Oldenburg, Germany.
  • Value-based design for the elderly: An application in the field of mobility devices. Boerema, S. T., Van Velsen, L., Vollenbroek-Hutten, M. H. M., & Hermens, H. J. This paper is still under review, the content is therefore to remain confidential.
  • To go where no old person has gone before: value-based design of mobility innovations for aging well. S.T. Boerema, L van Velsen, M.H.M Vollenbroek-Hutten, H.J. Hermens To study personal values of solitary living, community
    dwelling older adults, and how mobility barriers and
    facilitators affect their ability to life to their values.

Multifunctionele rollator

Background. In our aging society, the need for the elderly to remain mobile and independent is higher than ever. Aim/objectives. Many aids are available to support mobility, but often fail to target real human needs, or lack high acceptance.[LvV1]  Material and methods: We elicited values, facilitators and barriers of mobility of solitary-living, community-dwelling elderly in the Netherlands via ten in-depth interviews. Next, we held co-creation sessions with industrial designers and care professionals. The resulting designs of innovative mobility aids were evaluated for acceptance via nine in-depth interviews. Results: The initial set of interviews resulted in a myriad of key values, such as ‘independence from family’ and ‘doing their own groceries’. Designs sessions resulted in 3 innovative designs for a wheeled walker. Their acceptance was rather low, however, people who already used mobility aids were more eager to accept the new designs than non-users. Conclusion: The value-based approach offers designers a close look into the lives’ of the elderly, thereby opening up a wide range of innovation possibilities that better fit actual needs of elderly. Product service systems seem to be a promising focus for targeting human needs in mobility aid design.
Adopting and applying design thinking
RRD has adapted and applied design thinking practices in cooperation with TMZ, Indes and UT to translate insights from elderly to information on which Indes could design innovative mobility solutions. Expert knowledge of RRD research Lex van Velsen, broad in expert knowledge on user requirements analysis and CRISP GbM was the vehicle to adopt and apply Value Based Design Thinking as a method for gathering user requirements.