Was just sent this link to an article about a phone designed for baby boomers.
I read the article and the intention seems very noble – designing a phone for technophobes (and possibly the infirm?) – the whole experience of using the phone seems to have been considered with full support from an online interface as well as a call centre. Sounds excellent.
Instead of icons or menus, the phone presents features as a series of simple questions, which the user answers with the bold YES and NO buttons on the handset: Do you want to check your voicemail? If not, press NO and the phone will ask if you want to look at your phone list instead. Jitterbug offers two models: one with a typical telephone keypad (albeit with larger, brighter buttons than most mobile phones) and one with no keypad at all. The Jitterbug OneTouch has just three buttons: one to dial 911, one to reach a Jitterbug operator, and one that can be programmed with a number chosen by the user.
Leisa wondered what I thought of it. I have a couple of thoughts (heavily caveated by the fact that I haven’t seen the actual phone and, more importantly, haven’t been able to show it to any of its target users.):
- Accessibility score? The phone is designed to exclude ambient noise and therefore improve things for the hard of hearing. It appears infinitely easy to use and even gives a good old-fasioned dial tone to indicate signal levels rather than the signal level indicators we are used to seeing on phones; nice big clear buttons and on screen text and it all seems to have been very carefully considered. I know a few 80-year-olds for whom this would be not only something they could use but also provide a vital life-line. Great.
- Inclusivity fail? It is my understanding that baby-boomers are about 60. My mother (I know, but she is handy for this sort of stuff) is a baby-boomer. She is a technophobe in as much as she is afraid of ‘breaking’ things. But she wants to communicate with her children, her friends, her pupils, why would I exclude her from the wonderful world of text-messaging? Even my 75-year-old Croatian aunt can send a text message; for starters, it’s cheap! Also, I really enjoy – no really I do – all those photos mother takes of her new fence (and similar) that she can then show me or send me from her phone. I live in the 21st century, I want my mother to be able to join in!
Did I get too hung up on the use of the phrase ‘baby-boomer’ in the title? I’m sorry. But I reckon (this time based on research I was involved with) that they are the care-givers that the article mentions (who will inevitably have to set up the phone) and the potential users are their parents.
I will be sending the article on to my mother. Would anyone else mind doing the same so we can have some less caveated opinion here?
All generalizations (including this one) are wrong. So you can’t really generalize about boomers being technophobes. I’m on the leading edge of boomers and I surf, download music, upload pictures, skype, maintain three blogs, etc. etc. But I don’t have a cell phone. My wife does, but all she uses it for is to make calls – no pix, no video, no web surfing.
When I first read about this (months ago) I thought this is a phone that I would be interested in. But I haven’t gotten it yet, and desire is slipping away.
I’d even go for the three button model!
This phone could be very helpful for many younger people as well, not only for Baby Boomers or older. Offloading administrative functions is very good idea. I know pretty young people who hate small buttons and multi icon menus. Web interface could be much more firendly and intuitive.
I’d prefere to have less options on my phone, actually I’d like to have only options which I need often. Everything else could be offloaded.
Perhaps I should add a 3rd option which covers those that aren’t keen phone users? There are many assumptions and generalisations one makes in a post like this and perhaps one of my unspoken ones was the idea that everyone would like to use a phone as much as I do!
I am not sure that a phone like this should be directed at baby boomers specifically. Sounds like GoingLikeSixty would not want to be targeted with an internet browser which had built in access to 3 websites and only a back and forward button any more than my mother – also a very capable baby boomer – would want a phone with 3 buttons.
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