Just some thoughts I had the other day when I was reading Steve Gurney’s (from Retirement Living) “Swimming in a Sea of Gadgets” post on his impressions of the Silvers Summit at CES. One of the points he makes is that if we create easier computers for seniors to use (think GrandCare, MyGait, Telikin, etc), wouldn’t everyone want to use them?
This really struck a chord with me. Not only do I absolutely agree that this is key, but it also made me start to think that maybe we are, indeed, marketing to the wrong people. Arlene Harris from Jitterbug once spoke on our GrandCare weekly Aging & Technology Webinar and she made the point that nobody wants to feel “old”. When they designed the Jitterbug, they designed it for everybody – and it was, of course, a fantastic new tool for senior clients…but it didn’t make them feel old. When marketing, they targeted 20 years younger than the “Client”, because everybody sort of identifies with their “perception” of who they want to be and not necessarily who they are.
So, the idea with all of these new Non-Computer, but is a computer, solutions is that it is easier for anyone to have the complete computer experience (in a non traditional way). No mouse, no complicated URL bars, no garbled junk that you need to wade through…sounds familiar…oh yeah – sounds like my IPAD!! I think about how my iPhone and iPad have changed not only my life, but the lives of my 2 and 4 year old. It took them about 2 minutes to become absolutely fluent in the art of IPADDING 🙂
So let’s think about these products. They are not designed to be geriatric, but instead hip, cool and the “IT” thing to do. People are trying them out and saying, wow – my kids/parents could do this. Now, I am not sure that my 87 year old grandfather could navigate through my IPAD…probably not. But, I do know from first-hand experience that he has had ZERO trouble with the GrandCare Touch Interface…If we design it for anyone to use -it becomes less of a “this works well only if you’re old” mentality. Take my two kids…once again – I have a GrandCare TouchScreen mounted in our kitchen. It reminds us (loudly) to give the kids their Flinstone Gummy Vitamins at night. In fact, my husband grabbed the audio file from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and Nurse Ratched says “Medication Time” if the med cabinet has not been opened by 7pm. We enjoy little things like that and the boys think it’s hilarious. We also use it to put our schedules on there – so everyone is aware of the calendar events (replacing the big calendar we had on the wall when I was a kid where we had to (Gasp) WRITE on it). The GrandCare System updates us with the weather, shows pictures (the boys love the animal stock photos). I also add pictures from birthday parties (we don’t really have tangible photo albums around the house for the kids to look at) so the kids LOVE seeing their friends and cousins on the “TV” in our kitchen. We think of it as a huge digital photo frame (on steroids) when it’s not being actively used. It’s fun and a fantastic entertainment piece while the boys sit at the table waiting for dinner. Another thing I (as a parent) really enjoy is that I can remotely program which YouTube and Streaming Videos/Music can be accessible through the touchscreen for my kids to access. I don’t know if you’ve seen some of the stuff on YouTube, but even seemingly appropriate “I love Waffles” songs can quickly turn into dirty sexual waffle songs…hard to believe, I know…but I do try to be very careful with what the boys are watching. The remote control that I have is wonderful and I can constantly add new songs and videos for the kids to enjoy! I also put notes on there for our babysitters (where we are, directions for bedtime, directions for my 2 year old’s nebulizer, etc) and our contact information is always there (at all times), should someone need to contact us. Our GrandCare System also does some basic home automation stuff (turns on the hallway light if anyone gets out of bed during the night to use the bathroom, calls my cell phone if someone opened the front door during the night – I’m looking at my 2 year old on this one, turns off lights after periods of inactivity, etc.)
It’s so easy to see why all ages could benefit from a system like this. Perhaps WE GEN X-ers are the ones that need to be the early adopters and show the way!!!
– Laura Mitchell