Mobile phone technology is constantly becoming faster, smarter and more complex, but for some sections of society that’s not always a good thing.
Now one mobile phone maker in London is attempting to address the problem of older people who find new technology difficult to use.
Joyce is an 89-year-old woman who has lived in the same house her entire life. Like large sections of Britain’s older population, at times Joyce can feel lonely and isolated. She’s one of a number of people testing out the new simpler phones.
“Well, I’ve never known life without a phone”, said Joyce. “So I can only imagine I’d feel very cut off without it. Which means all the time you’re in contact with somebody, which is very, very helpful”
The company behind the stripped-back devices is London-based Ownfone.
The tech company prides itself on making perhaps the world’s simplest mobile phone.
Each device is individually customised with the names – or even faces – of a set of pre-programmed contacts, they are then printed using 2D printers, 3D printers for Braille phones.
The devices can be programmed with up to 12 easily accessible contacts.
“We find that as people get older, quite often their dexterity reduces so for example touch screen can be quite tricky to touch”, said Helena King of Age UK. “Also, if you’ve got dementia or Alzheimer’s or any problem with your memory, learning from a difficult manual or understanding quite complex technology can be quite overpowering so simplicity is often the key.”
According to the UK’s communications watchdog OFCOM, 82 percent of people aged between 65 and 74 in the UK use a mobile phone, but this drops significantly to 52 percent for people aged 75 years and older.
The new, simpler devices could encourage more older people to stay in touch with their loved ones.