Adapting a Person's Home in 3D Using a Mobile App (MapIt): Participatory Design Framework Investigating the App's Acceptability

JMIR Rehabil Assist Technol. 2021 May 11;8(2):e24669. doi: 10.2196/24669.


Background: Home adaptation processes enhancing occupational engagement rely on identifying environmental barriers, generally during time-consuming home visits performed by occupational therapists (OTs). Relevance of a 3D model to the OT's work has been attested, but a convenient and consumer-available technology to map the home environment in 3D is currently lacking. For instance, such a technology would support the exploration of home adaptations for a person with disability, with or without an OT visit.

Objective: The aim of this study was to document the development and acceptability of a 3D mapping eHealth technology, optimizing its contribution to the OT's work when conducting assessments in which home representations are essential to fit a person's needs.

Methods: A user-centered perspective, embedded in a participatory design framework where users are considered as research partners (not as just study participants), is reported. OTs, engineers, clinicians, researchers, and students, as well as the relatives of older adults contributed by providing ongoing feedback (eg, demonstrations, brainstorming, usability testing, questionnaires, prototyping). System acceptability, as per the Nielsen model, is documented by deductively integrating the data.

Results: A total of 24 stakeholders contributed significantly to MapIt technology's co-design over a span of 4 years. Fueled by the objective to enhance MapIt's acceptability, 11 iterations lead to a mobile app to scan a room and produce its 3D model in less than 5 minutes. The app is available for smartphones and paired with computer software. Scanning, visualization, and automatic measurements are done on a smartphone equipped with a motion sensor and a camera with depth perception, and the computer software facilitates visualization, while allowing custom measurement of architectural elements directly on the 3D model. Stakeholders' perception was favorable regarding MapIt's acceptability, testifying to its usefulness (ie, usability and utility). Residual usability issues as well as concerns about accessibility and scan rendering still need to be addressed to foster its integration to a clinical context.

Conclusions: MapIt allows to scan a room quickly and simply, providing a 3D model from images taken in real-world settings and to remotely but jointly explore home adaptations to enhance a person's occupational engagement.

Keywords: 3D visualization; aging; assistive technology; built environment; camera; disability; mobile phone; occupational therapy; remote assessment; telehealth; universal design.