Technologies designed for seniors are simply easy to use
Do you know an older person who is too intimidated to use a computer to access the Internet, exchange e-mail with family and friends, or view photos of the latest family gathering posted online? It’s not unusual for a person over the age of 60 to be hesitant about using a computer.
Unlike younger generations, these seniors didn’t use computers in the classroom and may never have used one in their work lives, either. Now they may think it’s too hard to learn to use a computer in their personal lives. Whereas young people will simply put their hands on technology they have never used before and “give it a try,” older people sometimes have a fear that something will go wrong.
For a novice computer user of any age, but especially for elderly people, the typical user interface can be overwhelming. Even with a graphical user interface, it’s not intuitively obvious what a person is supposed to do to open and read an e-mail message, create a document or file, or perform other common tasks. Now, HP is collaborating with technology partners to create simple solutions that address the needs of seniors who are new to computing.
The first solution is remarkably easy and requires no experience or knowledge of computers to operate. The HP Printing Mailbox with Presto Service is designed for people who do not use a computer or are not online at all. It allows a person to receive printed messages that friends and family members send via their normal e-mail service.
The Presto Service converts the e-mail and photo attachments into easy-to-read color printouts that are automatically delivered to the HP Printing Mailbox on a daily schedule, just like letters. The recipient just scoops the printouts from the paper tray to read the messages and look at the photos.
The solution uses a customized HP inkjet printer that is designed with low maintenance needs for the novice user. The printer isn’t connected to a computer; rather, it has a phone jack that plugs into a regular telephone line. The HP Printing Mailbox with Presto Service doesn’t interfere with home phone service, so it can be ready to accept printed messages at any time. Because there’s no keyboard or screen, the recipient can’t respond to messages, but he or she can stay in touch with loved ones who send notes and photos.
The HP Printing Mailbox with Presto Service makes an ideal gift for a parent or grandparent that you want to keep in touch with. The specialized printer plugs into an electrical outlet and a regular phone jack. Subscription to the Presto Service is available on either a monthly or annual basis.
For people who want the capabilities of a regular PC but with a simplified user interface, there are the SeniorPC offerings from HP and Microsoft . SeniorPCs are HP computers that come equipped with user-friendly software specifically geared to senior living. The novice user will find a simplified way to perform tasks like sending and receiving e-mail, writing documents with word processing, and managing important things like prescriptions, finances, travel planning and photos. There are even word games and number games for keeping the puzzle skills sharp.
There are several SeniorPC packages from which to choose. The standard package includes what seniors want most in a PC. The device runs on Windows Vista Home Premium, and comes with Microsoft Works Suite 8, games, prescription management software, and more. The autopilot package has all the features of the standard package, plus additional tools for seniors with little or no computer experience who want to use e-mail, access the Internet, and create letters and files.
For either package, the software programs are all preinstalled, so all you have to do is plug in the PC and turn it on. The PC can be either a desktop or notebook computer; select HP models are available. Each SeniorPC also comes with an HP color printer. Optional installation and support from GeekSquad may be available in your area.
The whole experience of the SeniorPC, as well as the HP Printing Mailbox with Presto Service, was designed to be very simple and tailored to the needs of a novice elderly user. From buying to setting up to using the devices, the “intimidation factor” is gone, and it’s time to “give it a try.”
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