Earlier in the week I covered on the Ipad’s potential as a tool for older people. Apple, however, is not the only game in town. Charles de Vilmorin and Hervé Roussel have teamed up to create a multimedia system designed specifically for elders.
This interests me because I am a firm believer in the principle of universal design. When people design processes and products which are easy to use by people living in elderhood, they learn how to design products that are easy for people of all ages to use.
Their ideas seem to be getting some real traction. Now, Dinah Eng has written about the duo and their ideas for CNNMoney.com.
Remember what it was like to navigate an MP3 player for the very first time? Now imagine that challenge multiplied by the hurdles of old age: arthritic fingers, weak vision, the works.
In the age of so-called digital democracy, with technology leveling many playing fields, why should
the elderly[elders] be left out?
Linked Senior’s streamlined handheld is designed to be intuitive — and colorful.
Enter marketer Charles de Vilmorin and software developer Hervé Roussel. In 2007, they partnered to create Linked Senior, the first audio entertainment system for the elderly. The system is built around a touchscreen kiosk, which serves as a centralized downloading station and allows retirement home residents to plug in specialized MP3 players and choose from a library of 63,000 audiobooks, language lessons, music, news reports, games, and other programs.
“We wanted it to be as simple as possible, empowering people who need it the most, but still keep it hip looking,” Roussel says. “Some of the seniors are afraid of technology, and some had never touched a computer.”
The kiosk was designed to look like a television, rather than a PC, to make the device seem more familiar. The handheld MP3 player is modeled after the iPod, but it comes in a bright orange color with oversized buttons.
Linked Senior is based in Washington, D.C., and has signed contracts with 30 retirement communities in the Mid-Atlantic region since its July launch. One of the company’s first “wired” nursing homes, Vinson Hall Retirement Community in McLean, Va., is already using 36 kiosks.
The strikethrough is mine. Of course.
Here is more from Eng’s article…
Roussel and De Vilmorin pooled $25,000 of their personal savings to bootstrap their startup. “We had enough to get us through the first phase of development, then asked family and friends to support us with a few hundred thousand dollars, which got us to where we are today,” De Vilmorin says. “We anticipate breaking even this summer. Then will go looking for funding to continue developing the product and expanding our geographic reach.”
Steve Gurney, publisher of the Guide to Retirement Living SourceBook, says Linked Senior has tapped a market that will grow as the population ages. But the company isn’t alone in the field: Companies such as It’s Never 2 Late and BigScreenLive have built entire computer systems for senior users, he notes.
Still, Gurney believes that Linked Senior, will carve out a strong niche with its specific focus on audio delivery through MP3 players.
“Generally an activities director has a limited budget to work with, so Linked Senior is a great tool to enhance the lifestyles of residents in these developments,” he says. “Instead of paying money to have an occasional live performer come in, communities can use technology to enhance their service delivery.”
He also sees the nimble startup’s flexibility as an advantage.
“Linked Senior is constantly modifying its ideas to meet the needs of the market,” Gurney says. “The willingness of these two guys to roll up their sleeves and listen to their customers will make this a success.”
Complete article here
The vast “unexplored country” of 21st Century American aging contains a tremendous potential for entrepreneurial success.
Check out the company’s site here.