SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA, MAY 6, 2021 – The Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) announced that it invented a contactless meeting area called “Family’s Living Room” for citizens unable to see their beloved parents in care homes due to COVID-19.
Devised as part of the city’s “Social Problem Solving Design,” the Family’s Living Room can be installed outdoors. The mobile pod is made of wood and as large as 15㎡.
Inside the living room, gloves similar to those used for sample collection at COVID testing sites are installed on the wall. Using these gloves, families can have a conversation while holding hands with each other without worrying about the virus. In addition, a high-performance audio system that clearly transmits the voice helps seniors with hearing difficulties recognize their family’s voices over the wall. A large-screen display in the room allows families to share photos and videos.
They can also have a video call with those who couldn’t make it to the meeting area because they live abroad or due to the restrictions on the size of gatherings.
Since seniors and their families use different ways to get to the meeting pod and the room is completely separated with a transparent wall, there is no risk of infection. Also, the room has an air conditioning system that ventilates the air. The devices and furniture in the pod are disinfected for each family gathering.
The SMG offers a unique service for those who don’t want to leave their family so soon. When the happy family time is almost over, visitors can ask for photos with their parents over the wall. The photos will be printed out instantly so that people can share the pictures with their families. Seoul will provide the manual for this design as an open source. Nursing homes and numerous other facilities for seniors and disabled people that had no choice but to limit visitors from outside can now introduce a Family’s Living Room with the manual.
The city’s first Family’s Living Room will be installed at Seoul Dongbu Senior Care Center and operates full time from the very first week of May. The Care Center used to receive visitors only during the weekends, but thanks to the mobile living room, visitors will be able to see their family on weekdays, too. The visiting hours will be up to ten minutes.
Mayor Oh Se-hoon will also visit the “Family’s Living Room” in Seoul Dongbu Senior Care Center at 13:50 p.m. on May.6 (Thursday), ahead of Parents’ Day. Mayor will present VR trips as gifts for Parents’ Day and travels to Hangang Park, a place of memories that the elderly usually missed. It is a realization of the old man’s wish, which has been said, “I want to enjoy the cool breeze in the Han River, and I miss the fireworks I saw with my younger sisters.”
Mayor of Seoul Oh Se-hoon said, “As the pandemic lasts longer than expected, the elderly people in nursing homes are in agony, missing their beloved family. For them, the city has come up with a social-problem-solving design that takes care of citizens’ feelings while providing a COVID-free environment. We promise to further expand such creative design projects for Seoul citizens’ lives.”