Tech for Grandmothers?

S. Dale Morrey sdalemorrey at
Fri Feb 10 17:26:14 MST 2012

Hi Plug,

I was browsing facebook today because my family has recently decided
to use it in place of actually talking to eachother (not that we ever
did much of that before).

As I was catching up with relatives I had the sad realization that my
Mother, who is in her 80s, doesn't participate and because of this
she's been left out of the loop.  She has a 50Mbs fiber optic line and
an N wireless router, courtesy of Utopia and uses it about once a week
to download a book onto her nook simple touch.

This has me thinking; Why hasn't anyone come up with a dedicated
device that could be used for elderly and shut in older folks to
communicate with their loved ones?  I'm not talking about a tablet
that can do everything like an iPad or even a nook color, I just mean
a dedicated device that only does facebook (yeeech), or some other
similar service.  I mean what would be involved in taking a cheap
tablet device, locking it down or at least optimizing the UI for
something like that?  A simple touchscreen menu with big pictures of
all the kids & grandkids, touch one and see what they've been up to.
Press another button and record a little video, or start a video chat?
 Something like that seems so obvious that I can't believe it doesn't
exist and I really wonder why this avenue hasn't been explored.

I love my mother, but she is the most technically illiterate person on
earth and believe me, I've tried for years to get her to "learn
computers".  The only reason she has the nook simple touch is because
we went for a walk by barnes and noble last year and she was
mentioning how she would love to start reading books again, but her
eyes are getting bad.  A salesman overhead that and 20 minutes later
she had bought a nook and library of congress to go with it (being
able to scale the text up and down with a press of a button is a
feature she really loves).

Am I onto something new, or does anyone know of a device or service
matching what I'm talking about here?

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