Posts Tagged death

Can technology help people cope with death?

Angel Innovation

We’ve seen great movements towards designing new tools and technology to improve aging and the end of life experience for the generation of baby boomers­­; But how can technology and design aid those who are left behind after their loved one has already passed?

After the recent passing of my grandmother and uncle, I’ve observed the different ways different people grieve and cope with death.  One thing for sure is that death affects and changes you.

In the tech world, I have seen some interesting and borderline creepy innovations pop up surrounding the aftermath of death. For example, Eterni Me allows you to become virtually immortal, allowing loved ones to Skype an AI version of yourself built on your social media data that mimics your look and mannerisms.

The concept of talking to “dead people” is a bit unnerving to say the least, however I recently came upon this start-up that allows your to connect with your loved one beyond in a more charming style similar to the movie, PS I Love You, and the viral tear-jerker Medium article, When I’m Gone.

Safe Beyond allows their users to record messages that will be sent to their loved ones posthumously, like a digital time capsule.  They can be sent on special dates and can also be geo-tagged so recipients can receive them at certain locations. As illustrated in their video (below), a father can record a digital message that will be sent to his daughter on her wedding day, knowing he will not be there to walk her down the aisle. In this way, the deceased can still be present with their loved ones.

Safe Beyond’s site opens with a quote from the late Steve Jobs’ well-known Stanford commencement speech on the truths of dying and living.

And I’ll leave you with that.

“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there.

And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It is life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.” – Steve Jobs

9 Tips When Approaching Sensitive Research Topics

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Let’s talk about personal hygiene. Or sex? How about death and illness?

Researchers know too well that not all topics are easy to talk about, and there are certain topics of conversation that people will naturally shy away from because they are deemed too personal, stressful, sacred, or deal with a fear of stigmatization.

In our work, we have dealt with a variety of highly personal, sensitive topics from personal care (hygiene, body image, etc.) to health and wellness (illness, psychological disorders, aging, etc.). We know that dealing with these topics takes patience and experience to truly get the most out of your conversations, but still respect and protect the consumer.

Here are our top 9 tips when approaching sensitive research topics.

1. Use online platforms so they can feel a little more anonymous in their sharing
Even if you are doing in-person work, starting out online can act as a perfect warm up, allowing respondents to share more while “hiding behind their screen”.  Start with private online activities and then slowly transition to online group discussion to get respondents more comfortable sharing with others. At antedote, our online platforms allows us to prime our consumers with exercises, from questionnaires or virtual collages, warming them up for the actual face-to-face time, and ultimately allowing for deeper, richer, and more focused conversation.

2. Consider the environment
Traditional conference style tables and chairs can feel rather cold and uncomfortable. Consider starting with a happy hour with appetizers and wine, then moving into a relaxed living room setting to do the group talk.

3. Set up the conversation
The beginning of the conversation is crucial. Spend ample time talking about the flow of the day before getting started and answering any questions. Help set their expectations to put their minds at ease by using phrases like “there are no wrong answers” and “we don’t know what we we’re looking for”.

4. First, talk about something else
Don’t just dive right into the sensitive topic. “How do you feel about the way your skin looks?” is obviously never a good starter. Instead begin by talking about how the behavior plays out in a different, less sensitive category first, then work your way to the intended sensitive topic.

For example, if the topic being studied is evening skin tone, which can become a sensitive discussion due to its associations around aging, personal care and cleanliness, you can begin by first talking about the same behavior in a more comfortable scenario, such as stain/removal in household care. You can facilitate the conversation around removing stains from clothing, sheets, or whitening teeth – then tactfully move into skin. Respondents are more likely to talk freely about a less personal topic first, so it’s a good way to start out.

5. Allow them to educate you
Don’t assume you know everything. Leave all assumptions and pre-conceived notions behind. Ask for them to teach you about what is going on. What do they hope for from products? What is it like to be them? What do they wish people knew? You be the student and let them be the teacher.

6. Have them share with one another
Set up forums or focus groups as a safe place for discussion. If everyone in the group is dealing with the same sensitivity, they may even enjoy exchanging tips or suggestions or empathizing with one another.

7. Use metaphors
Bring in visuals. It’s easier to talk about sensitive issues in the abstract. Allow them to point to visuals or draw pictures to describe how they feel.

8. The power of stories
People tell stories everyday. Encourage them to share stories about the topic they are dealing with as opposed to just “answering the question”. Stories can get deeper and open up new conversations you wouldn’t even think to have had.

9. Be prepared to share yourself
Traditionally moderators are trained to keep themselves out of the conversation, but to encourage sharing on sensitive topics it helps to build rapport and open your personal self to the conversation. Just keep in mind to keep the self-sharing to a minimum so you’re not influencing them, but rather showing that you can relate. Making them feel connected will generate a better conversation.