UnaliWear Kenaga watch

Many fitness and other wearable devices are targeted at young, able consumers with plenty of disposable income and apparently low expectations of functionality for such products. Many of these products are not well suited to the needs of the elderly, where complex user interfaces and small displays pose significant barriers to their use.

UnaliWear is a company that is building a watch for seniors from the ground up. The company name is derived from the Cherokee word “Unalii” for “friend.” Their smartwatch for seniors is called “Kanega,” which is Cherokee for “speak,” which gives a strong indication of how it is intended to work. Using the spoken word as the primary user interface, the watch will allow users to do everything from ask for directions home to call for help in an emergency. The watch will provide medication reminders, fall detection, and more. Most important, it looks like a normal watch, so there is no stigma of wearing an assistive device.

But in order to do this, it needs to understand what is being said. The developers are building their own database of sound samples of different key phrases, and they are asking for your help. You can go to their website and read a series of phrases into your computer or mobile device. It takes about five minutes, and you’ll be helping create a smartwatch that seniors can simply talk to when they need help.