Being isolated and housebound can have a serious impact on a person’s health, well-being and quality of life. A new internet and smartphone service is helping housebound individuals to explore the outside world with a friend, relative, carer, or volunteer. The aim of Shared Walk is to help people stay in touch through sharing access to photographs and short videos that can be easily and spontaneously transmitted from a customised mobile phone app.
In particular, it allows anyone with a smartphone to capture and send narrated videos to a housebound partner with access to personal space on the Shared Walk website. It is hoped that this service will be particularly valuable for relatively isolated individuals with access to the website. It will enable them to keep in touch with any contact (or group of contacts) who can use a smartphone app. It is secure, accessible and user friendly to the novice – and it’s free to use.
The mobile member of this partnership typically captures brief video episodes of their daily lives with the phone app and instantly transmits them to ‘domestic’ partners to view and, if they like. comment upon through a simple webpage. The video might be outward looking views of a “walk” (although it might even be the view from a “journey” rather than a walk – say the view from a bicycle or car). Housebound participants can also subscribe to “stories” in which a mobile individual posts intermittent video clips that capture something of their everyday lives – this could range from a student,someone in business, a member of the clergy or a teacher.
“We were motivated by the idea that vivid and personal visual material was a powerful resource to animate and sustain relationships, particularly among those increasingly disconnected from an active social world.” Professor Charles Crook leading the team developing Shared Walk
The research team at the University of Nottingham (with funding from the Nominet Trust) have been looking at how everyday technology can help those who are socially and physically isolated feel more connected with their families, friends and community.
Shared Walk are partnering with charities working with housebound individuals to promote the service and encourage people to sign up. Have a look at the introductory video and do email Professor Crook firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Charles via Twitter if you would like to be involved in this innovative project.