Connected Devices for All

6/21/2012

While we may not typically associate connected devices and technologies with fringe age groups such as children and seniors, it seems the movement toward mainstream adoption is making it more common for these groups to adopt devices and technologies. A number of M2M (machine-to-machine) providers recognize this trend and are developing solutions for all ages.

In the case of aging Americans, perhaps younger generations are not giving their elders enough credit when it comes to being tech-savvy. According to Pew Research Center, www.pewinternet.org, more than half of adults ages 65 and up use Web services as of April 2012. Pew says while the adoption rate in this age group is slower than others, it is still significant compared to years past.

This data makes applications such as Family Ribbon, www.familyribbon.com, make sense. Family Ribbon is an application for the iPad that aims to help seniors feel comfortable with technology by taking the complexity out of Web services such as social networking and emailing, among other common cloud-based tasks.


The company says its goal is to open the door for older Americans to use the connected tools at their disposal, opening the lines of communication among loved ones, and enabling the flow of data into the hands of all ages. Once downloaded onto a mobile device, such as a tablet, the Family Ribbon solution provides an intuitive interface that helps seniors navigate Facebook, Picasa, Skype, Flickr, and other applications. Family Ribbon is offering a beta solution for Windows, with an Android version coming soon.

messageQube from Mobile Innovations, www.messageqube.com, is another device that makes wireless connectivity accessible for seniors. The device is a small printer that uses thermal paper to print wirelessly received data, such as pictures and text messages, sent to its owner via mobile device. In an increasingly paperless age, messageQube founder Rob Sweeney says the device takes a calculated step backward while harnessing the latest in M2M cellular communication technology.

At the other end of the age spectrum, companies such as Rullinget Corp., www.vincigenius.com, have created connected devices devised specifically for children. VINCI Tab II is a Wi-Fi-connected tablet with a 7-inch touchscreen, a 1.2-GHz processor, and 8GB of internal storage.

The $249 device comes preloaded with free content including VINCI Curriculum Level 1 samples (six apps), three interactive storybooks, and “Baby Haha’s Music Video” album filled with animated videos. The device also comes preinstalled with Gmail, Adobe Reader, Skype, and the Android Market.

Internet access is a password-protected feature, preventing young children from going online by accident or without permission. In parent mode, VINCI Tab II with Wi-Fi can be used as a regular Android tablet. The company also offers the VINCI Tab II in a non-Wi-Fi version for those who are not ready to hand a connected device over to their children.

On the enterprise side of M2M, one size rarely fits all. On the consumer side, companies are beginning to experiment with more audience-specific device launches aimed to meet the needs of businesspeople, small-business owners, parents, children, students, and even the often technology-reticent group—seniors. As devices become more widely accepted, today’s always-on society may become the norm for the very young, the very old, and just about everyone in between.



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