Maine is the oldest state in the nation -- thus research on tech for seniors.
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Is the iPad for boomers and seniors? Could be!
So much iHoopla about the iPad. But as the famous saying goes, there is no such thing as bad publicity and folks at Apple must be having a great time with this. The geeks have weighed in, plenty of snippy negative commentary has been spewed about the Apple iPad (including lots of sophomoric humor about the product name). I particularly enjoyed the whining on the Motley Fool site -- called "Fool Analysts Debate the iPad" which so easily could have been renamed 'Analyst Fools Debate the iPad". The gist, if you haven't the time to read it, is that it is lacking a phone, camera, and USB port, which it must have, they say, wisely speaking entirely from their own geeky user requirements. But what the heck, they're gonna buy one anyway.
What's the iPad got that boomers and seniors might like? Well, first let's just view the website of a popular netbook, the HP Mini, with its 'reading glasses required' (some might say illegible) screen to go with its very light weight. Don't be fooled by the 'Accessibility Tools' link on the upper left of the HP website. That's for viewing the feature/specifications web page -- which without enlargement is also illegible. Okay, now wander over to the Apple iPad specification page and scroll down to the bottom. Yes -- that's where you'll find Accessibility features -- "Support for playback of closed-captioned content, VoiceOver screen reader, Full-screen zoom magnification, and mono audio, which combines the sound of the left and right channels into a mono signal played on both sides. This enables users with hearing impairment in one ear to hear the entire sound signal with the other ear."
RIM futurist talks of a "world of Floridas." Joseph Dvorak, PhD, Manager of Innovation and Technology Futurist for Research in Motion spoke recently of a 'world of Floridas'* -- the 700 million people worldwide over the age of 60. That's now, not in 2050 when there will be 2 billion. RIM has some nice features for accessibility and the BlackBerry -- this material is copyrighted 2010, so it's very recent. Thinking about the metaphor of a 'world of Floridas', perhaps a 1.5 pound iPad can be placed in backpacks for cruises or other travel, perhaps assisted by cruise lines that offer iPad-specific charging and wireless features. Perhaps access to 140,000 apps, a bigger screen than either an iPhone or BlackBerry, the ability to watch movies, check health-related websites, super-size text, web pages, and e-mails easily, and listen to music or soundtracks (with one or both ears). And let's not forget a swipable touch screen that could enhance navigation for those that find the iPhone a bit small. No learning curve if you already have an iPhone. Yeah, that would fit right into a 'world of Floridas.'
Platform for apps and add-ons that boomers and seniors could love. So they probably will add the much-ballyhood missing camera for Skyping with the grandkids. And for those multi-taskers out there, maybe someday you can do six things at once, like the Motley foolish folk. Or maybe, for that $499 price (a fraction of a new Mac), you just want to focus and watch that movie, listen to that music, and relax for a change.
* Putting aside the fact that Florida, the 4th largest state in the US, has 18 million people and a median age of 38.