At the Arctic15 I caught up with Lars Hellström, the founder of Helsinki-based LivLiv Solutions, who showed me their new Android solution for the 55-75 demographic. He pointed out that old folks are a rapidly growing and technologically underserved demographic. And it makes sense- we're at an interesting period of time. Smartphones have become ubiquitous in younger generation's life, but there's still a learning curve and layers of complexity to smartphones, which may be difficult for older generations to grasp.
There are a few handset manufacturers out there, like Sweden's Doro, that provide phones with easy-to-use interfaces and big buttons, but essentially you're just getting a mobile phone. But this is the generation that invented the wheel. They may be suspicious of their phone's power, but they're adaptable enough to changes in technology that a dumbed down or completely locked down phone would be patronizing.
LivLiv provides a new Android UI that combines simplicity and flexibility. Their solution allows any Android 2.2 phone or higher to be fitted with a big, bright, and simple interface to access contacts, messaging, the camera, and external apps.
Rather than leaving the older user abandoned on a new platform, caregivers, such as close friends or family members, can download a remote application manager for iPhone or Android app (shown at right). Caregivers can take care of any problem that might arise, like remotely manage contacts, add reminders and alarms, change ringtones, wallpaper and other settings through their own phone.
This network of caregivers also works to make it easy for family members to keep up-to-date. If a picture is taken through LivLiv, it is automatically sent to the user's network - the close family members this person would be sharing pictures to anyway. It removes one more angle of abstraction.
Android apps can also be sent to the phone, so older folks can still take advantage of their phone's full functionality to see their kid's pictures on Instagram, or use apps related to their hobbies.
And I think this is the best thing about LivLiv. My grandma is in her 80's, but that doesn't stop her from liking and commenting on my Facebook statuses. It's a new era, and LivLiv is providing that flexible middle ground where your parents or grandparents are on a smartphone learning curve, not some phone that ends up being a deadend.
Right now the apps are free to download for caregivers and LivLiv UI users, and eventually they plan to monetize through a subscription model when they partner with operators. The company is also considering a small usage fee for heavy users that share 100 pictures a month, for example.
The best way to find how to download the apps are on the LivLiv website.