Technology can be an older person’s best friend—keeping them connected when it may be difficult to get out, keeping them safe, keeping them entertained, and keeping them physically and mentally engaged.
Here are a couple of ideas that I really like as gifts for an older population.
GreatCall’s 5Star Emergency Response System and Medical Apps – A small clip on device, this personal emergency system lets you help keep your loved ones safe, even when they’re out of their homes, because it relies on the cellular network. Press the button on the device and the service connects you to a GreatCall operator trained to help in emergencies. Enter your doctor’s name, family members and medical advice into the MyGreatCall database and you can rest easier knowing there’s a safety net in place. $49.99 for the 5Star device; $14.99/month for service.
PhotoBucket Storing photos in cloud makes it easy to share your photos with the whole family; it’s a great way to keep close. Photobucket provides tools for easy upload from any device, easy editing tools, and a way to share videos and photos from any device. Free sign-up. Manage remotely to update every occasion. Costs vary by storage space. Another new way to share photos is with cloud based apps that can share photos directly to any device like this one from CloudFrame or Familiar. Both of these can turn any iPad, smartphone or desktop into a photo gallery controlled “by the kids”.
Biscotti™ TV Cam Check in on loved ones from the comfort of your living room using the Biscotti TV Cam. The sleek, small device is easy to use and turns televisions into a giant, high definition video phone, no computer required, $199.
Netflix What I like about NetFlix as a gift for older parents and grandparents is that you can manage it for them. (Just don’t choose the movies that you’d like to see; remember it’s for them.) Your parents (or grandparents) can instantly watch unlimited movies & TV show episodes streaming over the Internet to the TV via most internet connected devices. Or they can just get the DVD or BluRay in the mail. $7.99/month and up depending on service plan.
Moms and Kids are Front and Center at the 2013 International CES
Nolan Bushnell, David Pogue & Warren Buckleitner among Featured Speakers;
(New York, NY) October 31, 2012 – Learn what today’s digital kids expect and what their families want to see at the Kids@Play and MommyTech Summits at the 2013 International CES®. These conference sessions bring together industry leaders to examine the epicenter of consumer technology as it shifts to the family consumer, discuss how to reach the coveted $2.1 trillion mommy audience and connect with kids who have grown up in a digital world. Owned and produced by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) ®, the 2013 CES is scheduled January 8-11, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Produced by Living in Digital Times®, the Kids@Play Summit is scheduled for 9 a.m. and the MommyTech Summit is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Wednesday, January 9 in the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC),
“This year’s kids are digitally connected, almost at birth. Fifteen new tablet devices made expressly for kids are now on the market,” said Robin Raskin, founder, Living in Digital Times. “We’ll explore some of today’s hottest trends, from the rise in kids’ tablets to apps, books and virtual worlds. Participating companies include a broad spectrum of influencers, from Lego and Leapfrog to new brands like Wanderful Storybooks and Wizards 101.”
In the afternoon, MommyTech will heat things up with a discussion about how technology is changing the sex lives of women, the business of blogging and what it means to be a woman in the CE industry. Featured products include a bevy of smart solutions to mom’s most onerous problems, including remote home monitoring, e-wallets, new mobile devices and child monitoring.
Other Session Happenings
Kids@Play: Nolan Bushnell, often referred to as the “father of digital kids,” creator of Atari and founder of Chuck E. Cheese, will offer a sneak peek at his latest projects and discuss why kids learn best when they’re engaged at 9 a.m.
MommyTech: Women in CE – Join some of today’s most successful women in a variety of careers from engineering, publishing and finance in a lively discussion about bringing a woman’s touch to the manly world of tech at 4:30 p.m.
“By the end of the day, attendees will know how to find their inner child as well as think like a mom when it comes to technology purchases,” added Raskin.
In addition to a full day of sessions, the Kids@Play and MommyTech Exhibitions, located in the Venetian Ballroom, will be open January 8-11, 2013.
Registered summit guests will be able to join Living in Digital Times for evening festivities including the Kids@Play interactive (KAPi) Awards and a spotlight on wearable high tech fashion. To register for the 2013 CES, go here: http://registration3.experientevent.com/showCES131/Default.aspx.
When your home is on the banks of the Hudson River, you take tide charts and barometric readings very seriously. But when the Internet stops working, it’s time to rely on your wits and a few handy gadgets. Robin Raskin, founder of Living in Digital Times, writes about the tools that helped her survive the storm: http://mashable.com/2012/11/02/lessons-from-sandy/
Microsoft’s new Windows 8 has been evaluated from many different angles, but what’s the benefit of the upgrade to those of us way-back Windows users? Gary Kaye, who will be hosting a panel at this year’s Silvers Summit, looks at Win8 to see what the Boomers will like. He speaks with Bonnie Kearney, Director of Accessibility & Aging Marketing at Microsoft.
Laura Simpson is SVP, Global Director of McCann Truth Central at McCann Erickson and the author of this piece which first appeared on Engage: Moms published by Mediapost.
Once upon a time we lived in a world of village parenting where matriarchal knowledge was limited to immediate family and neighbors. We now live in a world of community parenting where the matriarchal knowledge base is limitless and moms are part of multiple online and offline groups. From parenting books and magazines to community forums, TV Shows, celebrities, doctors and Facebook you might say that modern mom has truly inherited the “momopedia…”
The upside to this new information-rich era is that mom has a multitude of ways to answer the age old questions… “Am I normal?” and “Is my child normal?” For many mothers, the quest for answers begins by simply typing her most pressing query into Google. In our recent “Truth About Moms” research, the mothers in Italy referred to Google as “The Oracle!”
But this deluge of information has not come without challenges. In fact, over half (58%) agree globally that when it comes to making good parenting decisions, there is too much conflicting information out there. This sentiment is highest in the developing markets: 70% in China, 69% in Brazil and 66% in India.
Moms are responding to this by developing their curation skills and learning how to expertly blend new world and old world sources. They take traditional advice from their mothers or grandmothers and filter it via technology until the best solution is reached. As a Brazilian mother said; “When my first daughter was born I remember that her belly button fell off and I told my grandmother about it. She asked me, ‘Did you bury it?’ I had already thrown it out, so I went to the Internet.” Forty-nine percent of moms chose their mom or other female family member as one of the two best sources for providing advice and info they really trust. This is even higher in the U.S. (61%) and UK (59%).
Mom is becoming adept at using different sources for different solutions. For example, the top-rated source for child-friendly activities is community sites like Café Mom, the top-rated source for recommendations for child friendly products is friends and relatives, and the top-rated source for child education is parenting books and magazines.
Moms also use online communities to find the answers to embarrassing questions or seek information on taboo subjects like post-natal depression. Interestingly, she has the unique opportunity to find her “mom twin” online. In her real life friendship circle she may not know a mother with a child of exactly the same age experiencing the same challenges (a specific allergy, for example), but she can find the woman who reflects her own precise situation online and ask her for advice and tips.
On the flip side, she will also find women online who have a completely different parenting ethos and approach to her own. The problem with so many readily-available facts is that everyone is an expert on parenting and everyone feels qualified to criticize everyone else’s approach to parenting. In our groups we noted a degree of judgment between moms and wondered if this was being exacerbated by the explosion of parenting information sources and online communities. In our quantitative survey we saw that the top sources of debate amongst moms were non-working vs. working mom, what to feed your kids and schooling.
So how does mom survive in this new information jungle? Smart moms believe that as well as honing your curation skills, you need to look inside and rely on your own mom compass; 73% believe that a good mom always relies on her own instincts.
Brands that succeed will not only bolster a mom’s confidence but also strengthen her inner compass and avoid adding to the clutter of information. In a world of infinite facts, truths and opinions, brands must recognize that moms are not seeking the right answer; they are simply seeking the answer that’s right for her and her child.
Laura Simpson is SVP, Global Director of McCann Truth Central at McCann Erickson.
Einstein likely would have been flummoxed given the chance to read his mobile phone bill. Page after page of inscrutable charges leave mobile consumers forever perplexed as to whether they’re getting what they paid for with their mobile service. According to Todd Dunphy and Tom Pepe, cofounders of Validas, wireless waste (paid-for, unused minutes) estimates for the US hover around $52.1 billion monthly.
Validas helps enterprise mobile customers find efficiencies in breaking into consumer territory, via a new mobile app out this month called Vera. Currently Validas services about one-third of the Fortune 500 companies, helping them better understand their mobile usage.
This fall the company is offering Vera for regular-Joe consumers. Vera monitors your mobile usage and determines whether you’ve chosen the plan that best fits your needs. Through the same program used to analyze corporate data, Vera analyzes your personal or family plan each month. A recommendation engine provides money saving alternatives. “80% of users are oversubscribed to their plans, by about $20 a month,” say the company’s founders. That means you can save more than $200 a year by putting Vera to work.
To add icing to the cake, Validas offers its users a chance to take their savings and donate them to charity. At launch, Validas is backing the 7Bar Foundation, a microfinance organization that helps women worldwide. A donation is as easy as a one button click.
Vera’s official launch is on November 14th, with a special fashion show at the United Nations.
What’s $150, looks just like mom and dad’s version, and will be flying off the shelves this holiday season?
Answer – Tablet PCs made just for the kids. In time for the holidays, there are now more than 15 different kid-centric tablets. Tablets, like doctor’s kits or toy vacuum cleaners, are aimed at kids who like to play grown-up. They’re also aimed at the parents weary of sharing their iPads and phones, and anxious for their kids to learning, exploring and communicating.
So what defines this new group of tablets for kids..?
- They’re all based on Android 4.0.
- They all offer internet connectivity via built-in WiFi.
- They all have a camera.
- They’re all in the $150 range.
- They all have been made extra durable with protective glass on their 7-inch screens.
- They all come pre-populated with content: mostly books and games, and much of it free content, with quality quite varied.
- They all have some form of parental controls built-in.
On the downside, these devices are all going to require some parental involvement and for some parents, learning a new tablet may be too much to bear. And parents who want book-centric experiences for kids may opt for the Amazon Kindle or B&N Nook. My guess is that by next year at this time, only the best in kids tablets will survive.
While there are a good variety of kid-tablets out there – Kurio7, Nabi, Inno, LeapPad – here are a few of the latest:
Tabeo: ToysRUs thinks tablets will be so important this holiday that they launched their own custom tablet this past September. Parental support, preloaded apps and a sturdily-designed 7-inch capacitive multi-touch TFT LCD screen are the hallmarks of Tabeo. Pre-loaded with 50 apps, including Angry Birds, Freddie Fish, and Cut the Rug, with more than 7,000 additional apps available to download for free from the Tabeo App Store. Be prepared to get some ToysRUs marketing materials (invitations to watch upcoming best selling toys, etc) distributed via the Tabeo. The guts of the machine include Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), a built-in speaker, microphone, G-sensor and front-facing camera.
Early reviews are mixed, with the worst complaints including overheating, short battery life and ease of use issues.
Meep: This is a Halloween-colored tablet from Oregon Scientific. One of its big differentiators it that parents get to keep virtual coins stocked up, and kids redeem the coins to download software. Future plans include accessories like musical instruments that plug into Meep.
Early reviews have praised the ease of use, but complained about the unit freezing and lag times.
Lexibook: Lexibook, headquartered in Paris, has a full line of tablet products, not just one. There’s something specific to each age group: 3-6, 6-10, 10-12, and 12 and up, both in hardware and software functionality. This makes Lexibook the most targeted of the bunch. Learning curriculum as well as entertainment like video and music are included as part of the out of box experience. Plenty of educational curriculums are included, though it’s fairly basic, worksheet kind of stuff. More grown-up software like Spotify and Angry Birds are available on the Lexibook store.
Most of the customer reviews were from the UK, but many felt the company had to make the tablet easier to scroll and make the content more accessible to English speakers.
Death is on our minds, in part because the demographics are moving towards an aging population, and in part because dying is one really expensive process. In a $17 billion dollar a year business, memorializing and burial were among the sacred bastions untouched by technology. But the afterlife has begun.
.RIP is the new TLD (Top Level Domain name) up for approval before ICANN, the committee that doles out TLDs. Whether people scoop it up to memorialize the dead or complain about .RIP-offs remains to be seen, but the name is likely to be there for the taking sometime early next year and created with the idea of a memorial web domain.
In the age of on-line planning for everything, death can’t escape. Control freaks can spell out their wishes on FinalFling, an online safety deposit box where you can lay out your personal plan and make your accomplishments in this life abundantly known. From choosing music to recitations, the site provides a playlist guide for your big day.
The death business has lots of costs that add up quickly. From coffins and urns to acknowledgement notes, from body preparation to hearse rentals, it’s traditionally not been an industry where price shopping is encouraged. Now, sites like eFuneral are offering a shopping list of funeral services along with a place to put out your competitive bid for funeral services. The site caters to funeral planners including families, hospice workers, and the funeral parlor industry itself. Like a dating service, consumers are able to submit requirements, specify a price range, and await a bid. Discount coupons for everything from flowers to coffins await. The service, like many similar online services, is free for consumers with a variety of pricing plans for businesses.
FuneralOne, another online planning service, suggests that 1/4 of all funerals will be planned online in the next 5 years. The site targets funeral homes, offering them services like online tributes, webcasting, social media, online memorial services and more, providing a technology infusion for burial services. Eventbywire offers parlors as well as individuals webcasting and online tributes. Both acknowledge that their businesses are rapidly growing.
Costco, as many of your might know, now offers a variety of caskets you can order online, though the pricing seems similar to most funeral parlors.
For activists looking for the latest information on funerals, there’s Funerals.org. Did you know that NY is one of the few states that does not let you serve as your own funeral director, and that some states outlaw retail sales of caskets?
OPEN FOR VISITORS
Not only has the funeral gone high tech, so has the aftercare. QR codes etched into headstones are available in England from QR-Memories, and from Philadelphia company Digital Legacys. Snap on the QR code and your smartphone is immediately transported to the loved ones online memorial.
The technology may even add a new dimension to cemetery destination travel. In England, “a future of burials reliant on mobile video and projection” are being tested. The Future Cemetery Project they’re studying “uses an immersive, interactive, multi-media audience experience to engage heritage site cemetery visitors with the UK’s dynamic cultural past.”
We all know that death is in the future. Just over a month ago, we buried my father. In our moment of intense grief and pain, our family had to reckon with the after-death equivalent of shopping at Tiffanys. All told, burying Dad cost us about $15,000, no technology included.
The upside of death tech – price choice, more ways to memorialize, and more ongoing tributes. The downside? Just one more thing to have put on the to-do list.
From dispelling the myth of the perfect phone to deciphering hardware specs, from looking at the apps running on each of the platforms to establishing which carrier is best in your area, ReadWriteWeb gets a gold star for this easy to use series.