Post CES reflection on role of technology and Alzheimer's.
Boston, mid-May, 2016
I tend not to write about gadgets -- but the TV remote has bugged me for a while -- since the analog-digital switch, my mother-in-law struggles to use the remote control of her new digital TV. Sometimes she gets it by reading printed directions. Sometimes she just yanks the cord out of the wall to turn it off. Somehow, I don't think she is the only one who used to have an older-style dial TV that you walked up to and switched on. From an e-mail I received recently: "When we gave the new TV to my husband's mother, she said, "what's with all the buttons? Up, down, off, on. I don't change the sound and at my age I have the time to go through the channels."
That's where this device comes becomes a stealth winner in a battle to keep seniors connected to the outside world -- turning the TV on and off, changing the channel -- is near the bottom of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. But for some silent population, many who have dementia, who have difficulty learning new skills, have difficulty using their hands to push buttons, it may be gone and we can't hear their puzzlement. Worse, once the switch was past, news media lost interest.
The Keep It Simple (KIS) company figured out what seems to have eluded well-meaning people and companies during the transition. They invented a dial remote, the Slicker Clicker, that addresses the problem. And it works -- I programmed several TVs (after a few false starts -- instructions are not perfect) -- place it 6 inches from a 'new age' remote -- hit a few buttons on the source remote, done. Once it's programmed, turn a dial to change the channel and volume! And in a fully darkened room, the dials glow. How retro! How cool.