Mediated Presence Experience through Photography for Elderly

Social interaction plays an important role for elderly’s well-being. Elderly people are often in danger of getting isolated, might lose social contacts and therefore experience loneliness (Moser et al, 2011).

Due to aging, a declining health and a lack of mobility it is getting difficult to maintain an active social life (Brunette et all, 2005). With current technology rapid advancement, there are many ways to mediate human presence to be inclusive in elderly’s daily life to prevent all concerns above from happening.

Mediated presence is the processes through which human beings establish and experience presence in their life environment especially when this environment is increasingly mediated and even generated by technologies (Spagnolli et al, 2009). Through mediating a presence of human, we can imitate the elements of social interactions to reach out to another human being from different time or at different location.

This report will define social presence and how photography technology can be used to mediate social presence experience for the elderly.

Mediated Presence through Photography

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Short, Williams, and Christie (1976) defined social presence as the degree of salience (i.e., quality or state of being there) between two communicators using a communication medium. Communication medium plays an important role on how people interact. The quality of interaction also depends on the technology used to establish the communication connection.

Photography is one of the most powerful medium communication ever exist and there are huge potential on how photography can be manipulated to mediate social presence for the elderly. Photograph of the loved ones are often and traditionally been used to mediate social presence between the elderly. We can see the use of photograph to mediated presence by looking at the habit of most elderly, keeping photos or pictures of their loved ones securely in their purse, handbag and mobile phone as a remedy to cure loneliness and longing.

Digital Photography Technology

Digital Photography is such a fantastic example of how fast the technologies has evolved. Today we can immediately view the image seconds after we press the shutter of the camera. This rapid development of technologies occurs because people has realized how importance is photography in everyone’s life in expressing the feeling and ideas to someone else. With the help of technologies such as internet and advance communication tools such as satellite, photography concept has expanded beyond what we ever expected few years ago.

Digital Photo Sharing – Instagram Digital Photo Frame

Instagram is currently the most famous and addictive free social photo-sharing online service ever existed. Launched in October 2010, Instagram provide a platform for users to take photo, apply digital filter, share to the social network then gain thousands of Instagram likes or followers to your profile.

The idea of using Instagram can be looked as one of many ways to tap current trend and social attention of encouragement to constantly upload and update their current status to their loved ones especially the elderly. Furthermore, the use of Instagram digital photography filter to produce a creative set of photos may also attract the elderly to look, focus and wanting to know more about the picture.

A custom hashtag (#) can be used as an automation trigger for the picture to be send to Digital Photo Frame setup as part of home decoration for the elderly. Moreover, this function can be created to be flexible with other social media engine such as twitter.

Digital Photo Sharing – Google Picasa

One way of utilizing technology by sharing to your love one`s by using Picasa made by Google. Picasa is software that helps you instantly find, edit and share all the pictures on your PC. Every time you open Picasa, it automatically locates all your pictures (even ones you forgot you had) and sorts them into visual albums organized by date with folder names you will recognize. You can drag and drop to arrange your albums and make labels to create new groups. Picasa makes sure your pictures are always organized.

Picasa also makes advanced editing simple by putting one-click fixes and powerful effects at your fingertips. And Picasa makes it a snap to share your pictures, you can email, print photos home, make gift CDs, instantly share your images and albums, and even post pictures on your own blog.

The latest version includes Web Albums but requires that you request an account from Google. You can share with your elderly by tagging their name to your picture, and finally your elderly can view directly by using these applications from home and their pc.

Virtual Tour Photography

Virtual reality (VR) can be defined as a three-dimensional multisensory, immersive, and interactive digital environment that has triggered public imagination as future technology that will dominate our work, education, and leisure (Roussou, 2004). On the other hand, virtual tour which possesses virtual reality elements is virtual navigations of landscapes that exist in the real world (Li, Lien, Chiu, & Yu, 1999). According to, virtual tour is an immersive technology that places the viewer’s inside the image, enabling them to significantly enhance situational awareness and providing the highest level of functionality for viewing, capturing and analyzing virtual data. Virtual tour can be clarified as a simulation of an existing location that is composed of a sequence of video images. In addition, it can be developed from photographic-based media or panoramas that have an unbroken view.

The virtual tour use an image stitching or photo stitching as their main process of combining multiple photographic images with overlapping fields of view to produce a segmented panorama or high-resolution image. The stitching quality is measured visually by the similarity of the stitched image to each of the input images, and by the visibility of the seam between the stitched. Tours support a custom virtual tour banner. Owner photograph can easily be added to further customize the tour window included voiceover and music clips. Additional city information can be accessed on every virtual tour also the location of each virtual tour is automatically mapped for the convenience of the viewer. Detailed public and private school, as well as city information is included. Skin colors can even be customized allowing you to fully personalize your virtual tours. Instantly post your virtual tours to your favorite social bookmarking sites. Tours are easily Tweeted and posted to Facebook.


As a conclusion, technologies involving photography and imaging nowadays are very capable than we ever imagine. We have to make use and take advantage of it not just for ourselves, but also to improve bond with others, especially the elderly. We should use these technologies to strengthen family relationship like uploading photos, allows satellite tracking in form of photography, as another replacement of status update. While status update either using voice (phone call) or text (twitter, text messages, messenger and etc.) works all this while, they do not represent as deep as what photography offers. Photography offers more than word does, as it involves feelings, conception of idea and realization of what is happening. That is why photography is a very important element in providing a meaningful mediated presence experience to the elderly.


1. C. Moser, V. Fuchsberger, K. Neureiter, W. Sellner, and M. Tscheligi, “Elderly’s Social Presence Supported by ICTs: Investigating User Requirements for Social Presence”, ;in Proc. SocialCom/PASSAT, 2011, pp.738-741.
2. K. Brunette, M. Eisenstadt, E. Pukinskis, and W. Ryan, “Meeteetse: Social Well-Being through Place Attachment”, in CHI ’05 extended abstracts on Human factors in computing systems (CHI EA ’05). ACM, 2005, New York, NY, USA, pp. 2065-2069.
3. Anna Spagnolli, Matthew Lombard and Luciano Gamberini. Received: 30 June 2009 / Accepted: 1 July 2009 / Published online: 25 July 2009, Springer-Verlag London Limited 2009.
4. Short, J., Williams, E., & Christie, B. (1976). The social psychology of telecommunications. London: John Wiley & Sons.