A new tablet called Claris Companion aims to make it easier for old people to use technology, and to make the experience of aging easier--both for the elderly who experience it and for the family members who provide care.

The bamboo-framed device goes beyond the expected large fonts, buttons, and extra-loud speakers to include a bevy of features tailored to the needs of the elderly and their families, including reminders to take medication, emails, and texts that pop up without having to sign in to an account, download an app, or click anything.

Relatives can remotely manage their parents’ appointments or upload photos to their tablets through the Companion’s back end, accessible through any browser.

They can also set up a "check-in" notification, which the elderly user clicks in the mornings to let their relatives know they’re doing okay. And the elderly can unintrusively ask for a phone call with a click of a button.

2013-05-31

Co.Exist

A Tablet So Simple, Even An Old Person Can Use It

Technology can be scary, with its buttons and beeps and boops. But the Claris Companion tablet is like an iPad made simple, and outfitted with all sorts of features that make it easier for families to take care of their older loved ones.

Tablets like the iPad are so intuitively designed, children can figure out how to play games and browse photos before they’re comfortable speaking in full sentences. But for their grandparents and great-grandparents, who spent most of their lives in a pre-digital era, technology can be more trouble than its worth, hardly delivering on the Internet Age’s promise of constant connectivity and simplified communication.

A new tablet called Claris Companion aims to make it easier for old people to use technology, and to make the experience of aging easier—both for the elderly who experience it and for the family members who provide care. The bamboo-framed device goes beyond the expected large fonts, buttons, and extra-loud speakers to include a bevy of features tailored to the needs of the elderly and their families, including reminders to take medication, emails, and texts that pop up without having to sign in to an account, download an app, or click anything.

Relatives can remotely manage their parents’ appointments or upload photos to their tablets through the Companion’s back end, accessible through any browser. They can also set up a "check-in" notification, which the elderly user clicks in the mornings to let their relatives know they’re doing okay. And the elderly can unintrusively ask for a phone call with a click of a button.

The company writes that it was "founded with the goal of enabling seniors to increase connectivity with loved ones while limiting unnecessary hospital admissions," by making it easier to check in on aging family members and remind them to take their meds. It goes on: "In order to achieve this goal, Claris Healthcare designs technology that shifts the typical care pathway for seniors living on their own from an ambulance ride destined for an emergency room to a preventative and interactive healthcare approach centered on overall patient well-being."

The technology is priced with either one lifetime payment of $995 or with different contracts, starting at $39 per month (plus a fee for the device).

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21 Comments

  • shelley charlesworth

    Disgraceful ad - your marketing dept needs to be fired. I am 65 and am very tech savy. I resent ads that portray seniors as old & stupid. For shame.

  • longislandpen

    Simply because this article is condescending,  I will not buy the product.  Stop the image that old people are simple!

    Longislandpen

  • Richard McCargar

    Wow, just a little bit ageist?

    I'm fifty-five, and designed ICs for spacecraft, why don't you write a bit more slowly and condescendingly for me so I can understand what you are trying to say.

    What a boob.

  • Theresa

    Zak, you are a foolish young man...and for everything that a young person strives to be on the internet (free, original and true), you've shown yourself to be tied to the corporate bull-shit.  

  • Lynne Spreen

    Theresa, Zak wrote the article but he didn't invent the title. I think he was unhappy about it, too.

  • Anne Newkirk Niven

    You've got to be kidding with that headline. And the "beeps and boops" line just adds more insult. I'm 53, and yes, I consider myself "old" (compared to you, based on your profile photo) but I do not need a dumbed-down product. Not to mention that the title of this article associates age with being simple-minded. That's ageist, dude, straight-up.

    Yes, there's probably a market for this product, but I honestly cannot imagine a worse way of promoting it.

  • Sally Bahner

    OK, I understand your intent, but sheez, you could do better with the headline! Talk about alienating people!

  • Snoring Dog Studio

    What a moronic and utterly AGEIST statement. That you still don't get it astounds me. I don't care how many focus groups you did - one headline - one utterly poorly written headline - can send your product down the toilet. You want to alienate the very people you want to purchase your stuff? Go ahead, but this is getting blogged about right now.

  • Mykola

    The “even an old person can use it” part might sound
    offending to tech-savvy boomers and their parents. However, it’s important to
    consider the stats. According to the Google & Ipsos study (March 2013), only
    52% of seniors 65+ use Internet. The remaining 48% of the seniors are still
    offline and miss all the benefits of online socialization, information, and entertainment.
    Part of the reason is the complexity of Windows computers that deters the
    tech-shy crowd. These people need easy and safe apps and devices, accessible to
    seniors.

    Tablet is a perfect device for beginner seniors to get on
    the Internet and to start using email. Touch is easier than double-click.

    In fact, any tablet, i.e. iPad or Android tablet, can be
    made senior friendly. For example, you may remove all irrelevant apps to a
    non-home screen and leave only email, Skype, internet browser, and a few other
    useful apps on the main screen.

    There are also specialized apps for seniors, available for
    iPad and Android tablets. For example, you may use the apps for seniors,
    available from www.EasyFamilyApps.com,
    and get all necessary features on a regular iPad. For example, the EasyFamily
    AppSuite app ($9.99) includes easy email, easy Skype access, easy Facebook for
    seniors, online photo albums, easy browser, medication reminders with SMS
    notifications, call-back request, and a remote web-based administration for the
    user’s caregiver.

    Such apps convert any iPad or Android tablet into a specialized
    device for seniors.

    Both the apps and the devices create an opportunity for
    those 48% seniors (~20 million) to get online – and to enjoy the benefits of
    talking to friends & family, researching health & retirement issues,
    having fun watching videos.

  • Claris Healthcare

    Hi everyone, I’m one of the developers of Claris Companion.
    I just wanted to thank you all for your comments and let you know that we respect our older generations immensely. This product was created by our 55-year-old co-founder whose 92-year-old mother (living on her own) was being left out of family conversations online. He wanted to be able to help her manage her own health care and generally know that she's okay.
    We've spent a lot of time speaking with older adults to understand their needs. We've worked with a team of gerontologists to ensure the Companion was accessible to people 90+ and those with visual, auditory and motor skill impairments including arthritis. The average age of our user-base is currently 84 with little to no previous computer experience. Their family members have tried to get them to use computers in the past but haven't been successful. We’re pleased to report that thanks to the Companion, many of these users are able to stay connected with their families online and manage their own care for the first time.
    We don't believe that older seniors are not tech-savvy, we’re simply trying to help those that have no experience, no interest or just have better things to do than learn how to use technology that wasn't designed for them in mind.If you'd like to speak further about our research and our approach, feel free to contact us through our website.

  • Kathy Walsh

    As a 59-yr. old woman whose parents are both 84, I'd just like to say that product seems like a great option for some people. My folks want nothing more than to be able to use a computer or tablet, but they both have diminished memory and cognitive ability, and they are VERY easily confused. This could help them get just what they're looking for to stay connected with family and feel like they're participating in some of what's happening today. This is no judgment, just reality. My 88-yr. old mother-in-law, on the other hand, uses a laptop, smart phone, etc., with very little trouble. Rather than be insulted, maybe older people who are able to use technology (with TONS of options) should consider the needs of those who aren't as able as they are.

  • Claris Healthcare

    Hi everyone, I’m one of the developers of Claris Companion.
    I just wanted to thank you all for your comments and let you know that we respect our older generations immensely. This product was created by our 55-year-old co-founder whose 92-year-old mother (living on her own) was being left out of family conversations online. He wanted to be able to help her manage her own health care and generally know that she's okay.
    We've spent a lot of time speaking with older adults to understand their needs. We've worked with a team of gerontologists to ensure the Companion was accessible to people 90+ and those with visual, auditory and motor skill impairments including arthritis. The average age of our user-base is currently 84 with little to no previous computer experience. Their family members have tried to get them to use computers in the past but haven't been successful. We’re pleased to report that thanks to the Companion, many of these users are able to stay connected with their families online and manage their own care for the first time.
    We don't believe that older seniors are not tech-savvy, we’re simply trying to help those that have no experience, no interest or just have better things to do than learn how to use technology that wasn't designed for them in mind.If you'd like to speak further about our research and our approach, feel free to contact us at www.clariscompanion.com

  • clarishealthcare

    Hi everyone, I’m one of the developers of Claris Companion.
    I just wanted to thank you all for your comments and let you know that we respect our older generations immensely. This product was created by our 55-year-old co-founder whose 92-year-old mother (living on her own) was being left out of family conversations online. He wanted to be able to help her manage her own health care and generally know that she's okay.
    We've spent a lot of time speaking with older adults to understand their needs. We've worked with a team of gerontologists to ensure the Companion was accessible to people 90+ and those with visual, auditory and motor skill impairments including arthritis. The average age of our user-base is currently 84 with little to no previous computer experience. Their family members have tried to get them to use computers in the past but haven't been successful. We’re pleased to report that thanks to the Companion, many of these users are able to stay connected with their families online and manage their own care for the first time.
    We don't believe that older seniors are not tech-savvy, we’re simply trying to help those that have no experience, no interest or just have better things to do than learn how to use technology that wasn't designed for them in mind.If you'd like to speak further about our research and our approach, feel free to contact us at www.clariscompanion.com.

  • Amazingkarawood

    I know this company and this article was not written or approved by the developers and creators of the Claris Companion.  I actually think that Fast Company should take it down and apologize for such bad journalism on their site.  

  • clarishealthcare

    Hi everyone, I’m one of the developers of Claris Companion.

    I just wanted to thank you all for your comments and let you know
    that we respect our older generations immensely. This product was co-created by
    a 55-year-old whose 92-year-old mother (living on her own) was being left out
    of family conversations online. He wanted to be able to help her manage her own
    health care and generally know that she's okay.

    We've spent a lot of time speaking with older adults to
    understand their needs. We've worked with a team of
    gerontologists to ensure the Companion was accessible to people 90+ and
    those with visual, auditory and motor skill impairments including arthritis. The average age of
    our user-base is currently 84 with little to no previous computer
    experience. Their family members have tried to get them to use computers in the
    past but haven't been successful. We’re pleased to report that thanks to the
    Companion, many of these users are able to stay connected with their families
    online and manage their own care for the first time.

    We don't believe that older seniors are not tech-savvy, we’re
    simply trying to help those that have no experience, no interest or just have
    better things to do than learn how to use technology that wasn't designed for
    them in mind.

    If you'd like to speak further
    about our research and our approach, feel free to contact us at www.clariscompanion.com

  • JuJu8

    Yes. ouch. "old people?" Um. Re-education needed. Pretty soon OLD people are going to out number you (insert favorite group title here). I demand brown rice and organic greens! Oh. Just practicing. ^^

  • mscottexas

    "So Simple, Even An Old Person Can Use It" Should I be insulted? I'm 56 and both of my parents are alive and well and clear headed. My mother can use a PC just fine at 74. I'm not saying this isn't a worthwhile tool. I'm suggesting that your presentation could use some cleaning up. This tablet might also be useful for people with intellectual challenges of any age. So would you then say "So Simple, Even A Retarded Person Can Use It"? I think not. Not all "old" people need simplistic devices, not all "old" people are feeble minded. So, what is "old" to you anyway? When will I know that I'm "old" per your definition?  And, what makes you think that the use of the word "old" is correct in this setting? So, how "old" are you Zak? Old enought to know better? Maybe not.  

  • Lynne Spreen

    Zak didn't write the headline. His editor did. I think he was as unhappy about it as we are. Too bad this headline paints him in the same negative light. He got caught in the crossfire.

  • Amazingkarawood

    This was such a terrible article about a really great product. I am glad you called Zak out on that.  

    The product is amazing - It's the journalism that needs work.