Label of Project Smart Age



The Project SMART-AGE is driven by the recognition that as individuals age, their social networks tend to diminish, and health-related issues such as mobility limitations can impede their participation in social activities. However, digital media offers a promising avenue to mitigate these challenges by facilitating intensive communication with family and friends, overcoming geographical distances, health challenges, or physical mobility barriers [Hülür G, Macdonald B., 2020].

The aging process introduces increased vulnerability to environmental factors, but it also represents a crucial life stage with significant potential for improving the quality of life. In this context, SMART-AGE asserts that digital devices can play a pivotal role in reinforcing self-regulation capacities among older individuals, enabling them to actively contribute to their own development [Lerner & Ross-Buschnagel, 1981; Schlomann et al., 2020]. Furthermore, digital devices engage in co-regulation with older adults, influencing their behavior either positively (enhancing developmental growth and compensating for resource loss) or negatively (constraining development and reducing autonomy) [Wahl & Gerstorf, 2018, 2023; Schulz et al., 2015].

The ongoing SMART-AGE study aims to impart additional digital competencies to older individuals who already possess basic skills in using digital media. Specifically, the focus lies on enhancing proficiency in utilizing a tablet computer and pre-installed apps, with the overarching goal of strengthening social participation, health awareness, and physical fitness.

The interdisciplinary nature of SMART-AGE encompasses major disciplines such as geriatric medicine, various branches of psychology (developmental, health, cognitive, mathematical), software engineering, computer science, sport science, robotic science, socio-technological research, and ethics. Collaborative international efforts include partnerships with the Center on Research and Education on Aging and Technology Enhancement (CREATE) in the U.S., the European project Mobilise-D, and the Primary Care & Community Health unit of the University of Manchester.

The SMART-AGE study is conducted by the University hospitals of Heidelberg and Mannheim in cooperation with the universities of Heidelberg, Mannheim, Tübingen, Frankfurt, Mainz and the Fernuniversität Hagen. The study is being conducted at the University of Heidelberg. The project is funded by the Carl Zeiss Foundation.

Digital Contexts in Rapidly Aging Societies

Heuristic Framework SMART-AGE