Most of us take mobile devices for granted, but they can be too difficult to use by people who are not able to manage the interfaces and physical controls. Elderly people and people disabled by various diseases or physical conditions may have difficulty operating devices with small screens and buttons. People who are challenged by the concepts of touch-based interfaces can also be bewildered and frustrated by smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, and smart watches.
Israel-based E2C focuses on developing mobile communications devices designed to simplify and thus enable use by people who would otherwise be left behind. E2C’s approach to devices, interfaces, and features focuses on simple steps with easy-to-use controls. Major elements in the design process include limited basic and relevant feature sets, big screens with large icons and labels, and a limited number of buttons or physical controls that are easy to manipulate. At this time E2C’s Basic Smart Watch and Basic Smart TV are still in development. The company sells the Basic Tablet in Israel and the Basic Smartphone in both Isreal and U.S. In the U.S. E2C’s Basic Smartphone is sold as the Simple Smartphone.
The Basic Smartphone interface and software features accommodate the elderly or others who may lack the physical control for an ordinary smartphone. Long click support requires users to hold buttons longer but doesn’t act on random touches. A customized onscreen keyboard has fewer and larger than normal keys. The capture and send camera feature uses built-in image stabilization. An S.O.S. button alerts preset contacts and a paid U.S.-based 24.7 emergency response center. The Family App enables authorized family members and caregivers to locate the phone, remotely restart the device, and set geofencing boundaries. Geo-fencing establishes perimeter boundaries are helpful if the phone is carried by someone who tends to wander. When that person crosses the “fence,” alerts are sent automatically to configured contacts. This application alone could be extremely helpful to people with Alzheimers or other forms of dementia — assuming they carried the phone with them.
The prevailing marketing push for mobile devices may be to add features and options, but adding to devices that may already be overwhelming to some doesn’t serve everyone. The E2C mobile devices bridge everyday use, support for elderly people, and potential communication links between patients and their caregivers.