Welcome to the Old Social…

Time was a person would simply pick up the phone to update grandma on all the happenings. If you wanted to share a picture with her, you would write a letter and mail her one. I know, I know, not going to happen. So let’s just throw some money at the issue and find a way to use technology to keep the old people from feeling unloved and abandoned. The “Jive” by Ben Arent is a unique way to allow the grandparents to peek into the wondrous and magical world of social networking. By placing “Friend Passes” to the “Jive’s” “Betty”, the elderly can forgo using a mouse and computer and instead use this multi-pieced, single purpose system that my grandmother would try to make toast with. I really appreciate the intent to simplify ways to keep families connected, but I am still scratching my head on this one.

Designer: Ben Arent

One Plug Router is a new design of router that was designed to give simple ADSL internet access into the homes of the users who were gong to use the system. The prices of the internet is free and is supported by a targeted 50+ advertising platform.

A friend pass is the key to getting the whole system to work. Individual buy and registers a friends pass to their digital live at jive.benarent.co.uk. This system will aggregate all of one persons digital life into one place. The jive service shall also allow for custom disclosure filters depending upon who you plan on giving the friend pass to.

‘Betty’ is the communication device itself. This unit has been designed to live outside the office, and has been designed to have a simple learning curve so a user can pick up the basic functions without having to understand the current complex interactions of digital products.

‘Betty’ makes simple functions simple by using a tangible user interface, this means if you want to do send a message to person, you just place that person onto one of the 3 points of betty. This tangible interface makes it simple to send a message to any contact that you have been given.

13 Comments

  • Ben Arent says:

    Thanks for the post Yank-o-Design. Just to let everyone know you can view a video of it working at the mini site http://jive.benarent.co.uk.

    I would love to know everyone’s opinion.

  • Dexter_Backlash says:

    I see a bright future for this technology. Finally a way to get even the technofobic ‘oldies’ together, leaving the young people free of their whinings of ‘When I was young’.

    It really works. Since I have my father addicted to the senior blogs, only the computer has to suffer the rants. Real letters or phone get replaced surprisingly quick. Especially if you let them know that skype calls and emails are free. With this gadget, the rest of the family should follow soon.

    The only problem I see is the limited amount of contacts. Old people tend to store hundreds of adresses and all of them are dear friends, which they haven’t heard of in years, but who are still important to them.

  • Mark says:

    An interesting concept, however, I believe that most of the frustrations with the current digital realm are caused more from the software rather than the hardware. I was only able to see a glimpse of the software behind “Betty” from the videos posted in the first comment so I cannot give it a thorough critique. However, even with the more simplified, tactile interactions of the “Friend Pass” I can see this opening up a myriad of new usability problems if the software is not up to par.

    One thing you might consider on the Friend Pass, install a ring for a chain or lanyard :) “Ethel! Where’s my gall-durn friend pass for the grandkids!?!?!?”

  • infmom says:

    You know, it gets a little wearying seeing from young people who think old people are nothing but cranky, stupid Luddites. Maybe it’s because I have a different perspective, being 57 myself and having used computers in one form or another since I was 18.

    Anyone can understand how a “real live” computer works if it’s explained in a way they understand. They don’t have to make do with some kind of brain-dead training-wheel substitute. The youngest person I’ve taught was five, the oldest 83. The main difference between young and old is that older people have been convinced they might “mess things up” if they experiment. Spend some time showing them that it’s not so easy to mess things up as all that, and they’ll dive right in.

    My mother, who recently died at age 78, carried on for years about the dratted computers and how much she hated them. She was known as Computer Hating Mom far and wide. Then my brothers and I took time to get her her own computer and explain email, and from then on the first thing she wanted to do when she came to visit was to use one of our computers.

    She would have scorned this design for the insult to her intelligence that it is.

    • zippyflounder says:

      spot on, its the “break it by mistake” fear (rather than it breaks it’s self ala blue screen of death) that inhibits most older users. I like you have been using computers for a long time (38 years) so having “younguns” pigion hole me is a affront. I just counter them however with realistic and experianced comments on their current “concepts”. It comes down to this, concepts, renderings and mockups are cheap but when you show me a real prototype I will get intrested. I will be REAL impressed when I see your “concept” go to pre production on your own money, that after all is where its at, real products in the market.

    • zippyflounder says:

      100% right, and I like you have been using ‘puters longer than many here have been breathing in and out. With many people its the fear of “breaking it” that limits their use (in reality most ‘puters break themselfs…blue screen of death anybody?). I am also weary of renderings, concepts and badly made mockups if you got something good prototype it. I am impressed when sombody shows a proto, not only have they worked hard to make it real but learned about the problems in the design. I become REAL impressed when its a pre production proto, means somebody had put their own money on the line.

  • zippyflounder says:

    To expand, I know that socical networking is a hot button for the web world however different age group’s look at that very differently. The real target age group for this system/device appears to be 70+ and they tend to want/need physical contact. All in all however given that Google will toss lots of money at any thing with a glimmer of potential in the web world this kid has a shot at being bought out. Good luck kid, make sure your IP is international, and remember a bird in the hand…….

  • Exceptional post however I was wanting to know if you could write a litte more on this subject?
    I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a little
    bit more. Kudos!

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