In addition to their regular duties, many ZDNET leaders serve as unofficial CIOs for family and friends, providing advice on purchasing, setting up, using, and maintaining consumer technology kits of all kinds.
A special concern for these tech-savvy people (they’re called ‘Family Information Officers’ (FIOs)) is getting older generations (65+) accustomed to using digital devices and software to interact with a rapidly disappearing world. is. Alternative analog route.
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Banking is a good example. As society becomes increasingly cashless and banks close more brick-and-mortar branches, the pressure to transition to a digital version increases.
Health care is another matter. Access to health care is rapidly moving online via mobile apps and websites, which risks excluding older people who lack smart devices or internet access, or lack the confidence and know-how to use them. My particular bugbear is the versatility and user opacity of many parking apps, and the lack of a wide range of cash or card options.
Most tech companies strive to make their products as useful as possible, but few explicitly consider 65+. And with the relentless pursuit of more features on most devices, pricing and user experience challenges continue to rise for older users.
One company that specializes in technology for the elderly is Austria-based Emporia, founded in 1991 and now operating in more than 30 European countries. Emporia offers a wide range of landline phones, smartphones, feature phones and accessories. In 2022, the company adds an Android tablet to its portfolio and also launched its first smartwatch, initially in Germany.
According to Emporia, 52 million people in Europe still lack an internet connection, 9.6 million of them in the UK. And of the estimated 13 million people over 65 in the UK, less than 40% own a smartphone, the company says. Therefore, there are many markets that can be addressed by companies that offer the right mix of age-related products and services.
The company claims that around 50 million people over the age of 65 across Europe are excluded from digital applications because they don’t own or don’t know how to use a smartphone or tablet.
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Speaking at a press event in November 2022, Emporia’s managing director for the UK and Ireland, Chris Millington, outlined one way seniors can face challenges when equipping their smartphones. He calls it ‘Hand Me Upping’.
This happens when a younger family member gives an old phone to a parent or grandparent to help digitally connect.
“So they give you a phone that’s 2-3 years old, it’s no longer updated or supported, it doesn’t work with banking apps, it doesn’t have an easy-to-use interface, and it doesn’t work well with life. They should always ask for support rather than recommend a digital connection. Because of that, you end up using this phone that isolates you and makes you feel stupid.”
Adding to the problem is the rapid evolution of mobile technology. This means younger generations quickly forget how older devices work, making it difficult to effectively support older users. Millington says it’s far better to “recycle or trade in used smartphones and consider custom products tailored to the needs and desires of mature users.”
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Emporia offers budget/mainstream mobile hardware with three layers of age-friendly usability: a streamlined user interface, printed training books, and most recently Coach (training app).
Emporia’s UI overlay sits on top of Android on smartphones and tablets, and unlike Android’s simple mode, it features large, clearly labeled, customizable buttons pointing to applications and key features. The home screen of the 10.1-inch Emporia tablet looks like this:
Here is a list of all the apps on the 5.5 inch Emporia Smart 5 phone.
There’s no customization once you get into the regular Android apps, other than a large back button and a bar at the top with icons for accessing the home screen and swiping through recently used apps.
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The second usability factor is a rare sight these days. Google Play Store and Internet, Email and Messaging, Social Media, Photos and Videos, Video Calls, YouTube Streaming, and Native Apps from device settings and Wi-Fi connection.
Millington says the book is very popular with Emporia’s target user base, while acknowledging that it’s expensive and static in content.
The new Coach app is designed to address these issues, offering a 30-day training course that delivers a large amount of learning in easy-to-understand daily chapters, along with plenty of gamification to help make the process fun and engaging. do. Learning can progress at your own pace, and repeated use builds confidence in the device. Beginner’s courses come pre-installed on Emporia’s smart devices, and follow-up courses are available for download.
Below are some of Emporia’s main products.
Apple’s cheapest new smartphone is the 4.7-inch iPhone SE, starting at £449 in the UK. That’s twice the price of the 5-inch Emporia Super Easy. But a used iPhone SE costs between £150 and £250 with 64GB of storage, and is Emporia’s main competitor, Millington says.
Another European company specializing in technology for the elderly is Sweden-based Doro, which also makes smartphones, feature phones, landline phones, tablets and smartwatches. When researching a cell phone from a mainstream cell phone manufacturer for an elderly family member or friend, factors such as price range, device size, weight and ergonomics, touch screen responsiveness, audio quality, IP rating, and GPS support must be adjusted. and more.