Thethe iPad was not created with our oldest citizens in mind. The screen is not especially large, for example.many older Americans to expand not only their computing skills, but also their short-term memories and their social(-media) circles. Nevertheless,
The computer company Telikin in Chalfont, PA is developing a desktop machine for the GI and Silent Generations. Humans interact via the large touchscreen, and the software interface includes large clear buttons that give users easy access to email, Facebook, calendars, and other applications, like local weather, that seniors might find handy. But apparently the computer is even finding adherents from among younger generations who simply want an easy way to interact with some of the staples of the online universe.
Fred Allegrezza, Founder and CEO of Telikin, wanted to build a profitable tech company that served a community often ignored by his competitors: the retirees who still wanted access to the internet and the exchange of information, photos, and ideas that went with it. “The concept was to be able to bring the senior into the circle of sharing photos and communicating in e-mail and communicating on video chat so that they were more tied in to the rest of the loop . . . of a connected family,” (quoted in a story on Telikin by Diane Mastrull at Philly.com)
The system has a Windows-looking box, a Mac-inspired touchscreen (18.6″ for $699 or 20″ for $999), and runs a Linux platform that allowed greatest customization of the graphical user interface (GUI). That interface is meant to clean up windows that might overlap or buttons that can be difficult to hit with a mouse. The first Telekin computer was a modified iMac for Fred’s own mother, and the company continues to present itself into the market as a simple computer for older users.
The software is still being developed (as is all software). In Walt Mossberg‘s review for The Wall Street Journal posted here, he notes that a few ‘missing’ features were intentionally left out of the system for fear they might confuse older users. As it turns out, a niche market of this market includes younger users who simply want a friendly interface to get to the few staples of their online experience: email, Facebook, Skype, etc. So some features will soon make their way back in.
As touchscreen technology grows ever more sophisticated, it is great to see a company retaining the model of simplicity and keeping the convenience of the user foremost on the list of goals. Telikin is also enriching the experiences of elders while also creating a tech market to serve them.