Loneliness, Technology & Architecture

Four dimensions of loneliness and social isolation

Two research papers in which SPREAD members have participated with other disciplines rely on the intersection of social sciences, technology and architecture to address the phenomena of loneliness and social isolation

Postdoctoral Research Fellow Rosana Rubio and Associate Professor Fernando Nieto have contributed to two investigations under multidisciplinary consortia to study the implications of socio-psychological factors, the use of technological devices and context-based factors in the mitigation of loneliness and social isolation among older adults.

The paper ‘Older Adults’ Loneliness, Social Isolation, and Physical Information and Communication Technology in the Era of Ambient Assisted Living: A Systematic Literature Review’ aims to gain insight into how technology can help overcome loneliness and social isolation other than by fostering social communication with people and what the main open-ended challenges according to the reviewed studies are. To this effect, it investigates the research conducted on older adults’ loneliness and social isolation, and physical ICTs, namely robots, wearables, and smart homes, in the era of Ambient Assisted Living (AAL). The study has been published open access in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, Vol. 23, No. 12.

The paper ‘Managing Perceived Loneliness and Social-Isolation Levels for Older Adults: A Survey with Focus on Wearables-Based Solutions’ studies loneliness monitoring and management solutions from the perspectives of technology, gerontology, socio-psychology, and the urban and built environment. It investigates machine learning-based technological solutions with wearable-sensor data suitable to measure, monitor, manage, and/or diminish the levels of loneliness and social isolation, by also considering the constraints and characteristics coming from social science, gerontology and the built environment points of view. The study has been published open access in the journal Sensors 2022, Vol. 22(3).

Both publications are the result of the multidisciplinary research projects SOCIETAL and AIsola, both of which have received funding by the Intelligent Society Platform (INSO), a research profiling initiative at Tampere University funded by the Academy of Finland.

[Image by the authors: Venn diagram of the four dimensions of loneliness and social isolation addressed in the second article’s survey]