New technology - distancing old generations from the younger ones


Everyone can agree that technology is making everyone’s life and especially the life of the older generations a whole lot easier. Nowadays there are several technologies specifically designed for older people such as: the seated bike with display which makes sure no one falls off the bike and encourages the old generations to exercise more; hearing aids that adjust the volume and function by using GPS data; the intelligent bed, an innovation of the Health Technology Center in Halland, which monitors  pulse, sleep patterns, and heart rate; the safety alarm designed  to help patient who suffer from dementia, Toyota robots developed to help the elderly to move and carry them around, etc.

As we mentioned in the beginning, it is true that technology is making everyone’s life easier most of the time, but at the same time technology is ‘distancing’ the old generations from the younger ones in a way. In a recent BBC article, author Jane Wakefield asks if older people want any of the new technologies specifically designed to help them, when they have a lot of trouble dealing with the ‘basic technology most of the younger generation take for granted.’

 “There are some very tech-savvy older people around, but there is clearly a large cohort of people who feel excluded by technology. They find it a bit impenetrable,” says Ian Hosking, a Senior Research Associate at the University of Cambridge's Engineering Design Centre.  77% of the old generation in the US have problems regarding the process of setting up a new device and always need someone to help them according to a report by the US Pew Internet research centre.

Breezie is one of the new technologies developed for older generations and aims to offer its customers a more simplified and easy to use interface for a standard Samsung Galaxy tablet. According to BBC Breezie “can be customized to make sure it has the settings and apps the customer wants, rather than a bunch of preset ones they will never use. And the ones they do have are made easy to use - so, for example, someone wanting to use Skype simply has to tap on a friend's picture in the address book.”

The founder of Breezie Company, Jeh Kazimi told BBC that the new product his company had designed was inspired by the problems his own mother was facing with new developed technology. “I watched her trying to navigate the internet and saw that she found it intimidating and complicated. [...] I couldn't find anything on the market that could make the internet work for her, so I created it myself,” Kazimi said. “Our goal was to design software that makes the online environment considerably more accessible for people with little or no technological nous and to do so without patronizing or limiting them,” he added.

Another example of simplified technology for the elderly is Emporia Telecom’s smartphone which is specifically designed for older generations and comes with a detachable keyboard and an app that enables its customers to practice using various tutorials, etc. 

According to BBC 19% of the US population is expected to be over 65 years old by 2030. “By 2050, there will be one retired person for every two that are in work. Apple is looking to address this - but not with new hardware. In a joint venture with IBM, it announced last month it would design "iPad apps" that would be "very easy to use for seniors". Aimed at the Japanese market, the apps will help connect millions of older people with healthcare services.”

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