There is so much innovation in senior care right now. Much is being created along the care side, but few companies have dared to propose new technology directly to seniors.
It’s a tough nut to crack. Even thought seniors are getting more comfortable with technology, it still takes a special solution to be able to make technology engaging and useful.
I had the chance to speak to Gal Har-Zvi of Softrama, the makers of Seniorama Pointer 2011. It’s a software application that transforms your existing computer into a senior-friendly operating system. Below is the transcript of our interview with some screenshots of the application at the end of the interview.
Tell me a little about the company?
Founded in 2009, Softarama Ltd is a dynamic Israeli software company with a broad array of products for personal computers. We make each and every product affordable and friendly to the user. Our specialty is creating reliable desktop applications that improve PC performance and accessibility for non-tech-savvy users. Softarama’s products are being used on a daily basis by tens of thousands of satisfied customers across the globe.
How did you personally get in the busy?
Softarama’s CEO, Shalom Ben-Moshe and I, are good friends since college. It was almost a year ago when he told me that Softarama is developing an innovative tool for seniors that will make every computer super easy for them to use. I was so excited by this great idea and had asked him to join this venture. The issue is also very important to me, since we all would love to see our parents and grandparents make better use of the Internet and open-up to the world.
What is the problem you’re trying to solve?
Apart from being an antidote to loneliness, the Internet can provide seniors with health information, access to groups coping with issues like chronic diseases, daily news, how-to instructions, where to find products and services, pen pals – And that’s just for starters! However, despite all of these benefits, according to latest Pew study, 42% of seniors age 65-73 and 70% of those 74+ are not online. This is mostly because they find computer s too complex and difficult to use and not because they don’t want to. We have created a great tool, which transforms any computer into an intuitive, easy-to-use machine – From start-up to shutdown, in a way that is most suited for seniors and anyone who may have visual problems, learning difficulties, cognitive impairment or, unfortunately, a neurological disease of some sort. Now everyone can enjoy the benefits of using a computer and going online.
There have been several attempts at senior-friendly computing. What makes you different?
Seniorama is different from several aspects.
First, no need for buying a new computer, or any other electronic device. It only requires a simple PC or laptop, and many people already have one that they can give, or share with their aging parents.
Second, many of these attempts have failed because the products were too complex for seniors to use. Many of them had too many features and their design was not friendly at all. We’ve put a great emphasis on research and conducted many studies to decide what features to include in Seniorama and to come up with the optimal Graphic User Interface. Seniorama is the simplest and most useful and intuitive computer interface on the market.
Third, while these tablets, senior-friendly computers, and even iPads cost at least hundreds of dollars – Seniorama is sold at a mere $97. We did our best to make this affordable to each and everyone, thus bridging the online gap.
What are some key features you’ve built?
It was difficult to choose what features to develop, since our main goal was usability and simplicity alike. After conducting a lot of research we have decided to include Email, Video and audio calls, Internet browser, Brain-fitness games and Photos albums. Seniorama can also read the emails out loud, record and send a voice emails 24/7 email support available.
Can you describe the installation?
The installation process takes about 5 minutes. After downloading and running the software, the supporter (e.g Charlie, the grandson – The one who installs the program) is being asked to insert the license key and the user name for which to create a customized email address (e.g grandpa Mike, the actual user). Then Charlie can also add his name to be displayed on Mike’s address book as the first contact person.
Charlie can also choose to have Senoirama start automatically when Windows starts, to shut down the computer when the Mike has finished the session, to have bigger fonts and mouse pointer and so on. It’s really very simple and includes on-screen instructions during the whole process.
How does it work for people who already have PCs?
Exactly the same as above.
Where can people go to take a look at the product?
They can find it along with other great products, at our website at www.softarama.com/Products/Seniorama.