Finalist 2023

YANA: You Are Not Alone

Jacqueline Johnstone / Monash University

The YANA project seeks to support individuals ageing in place through the development of provocative and engaging healthcare tools.

The You Are Not Alone (YANA) project seeks to support individuals ageing in place through the development of provocative and engaging healthcare tools. These tools are comprised of interactive, two-way communicating wall and door frames, and a notifying mobile phone application. The YANA project proposes that as individuals perceive their home as an extension of themselves, an extrospective analysis of residents' well-being can be conducted. This concept has motivated the evolution of the YANA system into a socially adaptive agent that employs creative media to foster meaningful communication and dismantle the societal stigma surrounding the natural ageing process.

Design Brief:

While the literature indicates that successful Ageing In Place (AIP) is a multidimensional condition identified through aspects of physiological, psychological, and psychosocial wellbeing, it is not known how design may provide an assessment of an elderly individual’s ability to successfully age in place within Australia. The AIP theory locates those over the age of 65 in an environment of their choosing, encouraging older individuals to live autonomously and actively within their homes as they renegotiate their identity and way of living within a dynamic landscape of physical, psychological and social change. This project challenges the misconception that discomfort and diminished self-actualisation are inevitabilities of ageing. The rhetoric that a wellbeing decline constitutes as normal ageing is evident through the insensitive, inaccessible, and surveillance-like healthcare tools offered to older Australians. Thus, an interdisciplinary design intervention is necessary to realise the holistic support needs of elderly individuals ageing in place.


This project was developed by:

  • Jacqueline Johnstone

Design Process

A human-centred design methodology guided the design project, with the outcome seeking to empower elderly individuals to demonstrate their personal agency through strengthening social connections and making informed decisions regarding lifestyle practices. To achieve this, a rigorous design process was engaged, aligning with the British Design Council's "Double Diamond" design framework.

The discovery phase involved an extensive range of research activities, including a literature review, dairy study, behavioural mapping, contextual inquiry, exploratory research and precedent analysis. These efforts sought to understand and appreciate the experience of ageing within Australia. Moving into the define phase, a SWOT analysis, a stakeholder map, analogous inspiration, low fidelity prototyping, a problem & opportunity statement, scenario descriptive swimlanes and a research proposal was employed to identify innovative and empowering design directions.

During the development phase, the focus shifted to generating potential design solutions that addressed the design brief. This phase involved creating product design specifications, benchmarking existing products and services, employing Wizard of Oz prototyping for evaluating user interactions, conducting desirability testing and user surveys, constructing personas to represent target user groups, performing value opportunity and Kano analyses, and showcasing the project through a workshop exhibition to gather feedback from the general population.

In the final phase, computer-aided design (CAD) modelling techniques were utilised to create a detailed representation of the product. High-fidelity prototyping, incorporating accessible technology, was employed to develop a working model that closely resembles a marketable product. Acceptability testing and interviews were conducted to assess user satisfaction and refine the solution further. Ultimately, the result was a comprehensive system and product design solution that effectively supports Australians' experiences of ageing in place through engagement with creative media to facilitate meaningful communication and challenge the stigma shown towards the natural human processes of ageing.

Design Excellence

The YANA Silhouette Frame is designed to capture the silhouette of the individual communicating through the design. Therefore, a silhouette is generated from a side profile image taken of an individual ageing in place and/or a family/supportive community member. The device utilises a non-invasive proximity infra-red sensor, which only collects data of an individual within the immediate proximity of the product, to transmit and receive motion-sensing data from its paired frame. When a loved one is sensed, the silhouette illuminates, and when both the individual ageing in place and their family/supportive community member are present, a custom illumination symbolises the abstract sharing of space. This innovative design solution seeks to enhance emotional connectivity and provide individuals ageing in place with an opportunity for passive social engagement.

The YANA Custom Frame allows for the integration of the motion sensing and light-responsive technology into any existing picture or artwork frame that is larger than 15cm squared. This frame responds to preferences of elderly Australians, and their support communities, which demonstrated the importance of having a customisable interface, which can discreetly amalgamate with an existing aesthetic.

The YANA Door Frame integrates the non-invasive technology, with its creative method of communication, into the home through a decorative piece of architecture. This piece explores the potential for presence to activate passageways and spaces within the home.

The YANA App complements the physical products by presenting the data collected from the YANA devices. It notifies elected family/supportive community members if no motion is detected beyond a predetermined duration, ensuring safety and prompt intervention when needed. Additionally, the app detects behavioural routine changes made by the individual ageing in place, providing valuable insights to family/supportive community members which can then be referenced by healthcare professionals.

Design Innovation

The YANA project seeks to challenge the misconception that discomfort and diminished self-actualisation are organic inevitabilities of physiological maturation through a human-centred design approach. Engaging with over 35 participatory research and design methods, the project allows elderly individuals and their support network to actively participate in the design and evaluation of their future healthcare products.

Unlike traditional healthcare tools and services, which are often insensitive, inaccessible, and described as “surveillance-like”, the YANA project takes a different approach. The YANA project seeks to support elderly autonomy with a passive communication tool that longitudinally collects data to monitor the immediate and long-term wellbeing of individuals ageing in place. Notably, the YANA project uses "warm data" as a storytelling probe. In doing so, the project explores the concept of storytelling as a resistance to wellbeing decline, where elderly individuals reclaim their voices and demonstrate their personal agency through the making of informed decisions in regards to their lifestyle practices. Furthermore, in using an artistic output, the project encourages communal interpretation of an elderly individual's activity results, fostering engagement and communication.

The design embodies a deeply person-centred perspective, responding uniquely to the individual experiences and circumstances of each user. The storytelling approach serves as a decolonizing method of information sharing, motivating users to accept, engage and communicate through the device.

Design Impact

The YANA project offers peace of mind to both the families and supportive community members of those ageing in place through the correspondence of timely alerts in potentially urgent situations and the signalling of a potential decline in wellbeing over time. The device utilises its motion-detection technology to notify elected family/supportive community members if no motion is detected beyond a predetermined duration, ensuring safety and prompt intervention when needed. In addition, the YANA products provide an opportunity for the longitudinal collection of data to support the identification of an elderly individual’s physical, psychological, or social wellbeing decline. Once the design intervention identifies an adverse change in everyday behaviour, the healthcare team of the elderly individual may be notified, with the relevant supporting data, to assess what proactive or remedial treatments may support the wellbeing of those ageing in place. The YANA project’s potential to provide early detection of an elderly individual’s health decline may significantly improve the quality of life for all those involved with ageing in place and additionally, ensure that the appropriate healthcare services within Australia are appropriately employed.

Understanding the demands of ageing population growth and healthcare costs is essential in the development of a design solution for those ageing in place within Australia. Research indicates that by 2050, the proportion of Australia's population aged over 65 years will increase by two-thirds, leading to a subsequent rise in demand for geriatric healthcare services, thereby placing significant financial pressure on private and governing bodies. The increased demand for aged healthcare services presents an opportunity for the community-dwelling elderly population to have their preference of living environments realised at a lessened pension cost per capita as the older adult renegotiates their identity and way of living within a dynamic landscape of physical, psychological and social change.

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