Smartphones seem to dominate the consumer electronics market. More people than ever are using such devices because they offer a level of convenience that is difficult to ignore. People of virtually all ages can be seen using their smartphones to talk, text, and surf the Web.
Seniors may be slower to embrace smartphone technology than people in other age groups, but that doesn’t mean that the elderly cannot benefit from utilizing these modern devices. Tech companies are now beginning to realize how useful smartphones can be to seniors. The key to marketing these phones to seniors is in making them user-friendly for individuals over the age of 65.
One of the top tech concerns for many seniors is being able to see a device well enough to utilize it. Additionally, a person who may have an array of health conditions, such as impaired vision, needs a device that is big enough to see clearly. The Jitterbug Touch has a 3-inch screen, so those who have previously struggled with tiny cellphone screens can finally see the screens on their phones. The Samsung Galaxy Note II has a screen that is a whopping 5.5 inches.
Another problem for people with age-related vision loss is the inability to read the words on the screen. The Touch3, by GreatCall (which is also the company that produces the Jitterbug Touch), displays words in large text. As CNBC Senior Technology Editor Matt Hunter points out, customer service representatives for some companies are required to wear glasses that simulate glaucoma during one phase of their training, so they may gain a clear understanding of the typical user experience from a senior’s eyes.
A slider screen may offer convenience to the average smartphone user, but it could be a crucial feature for a senior citizen. According to mobile marketer OpenMarket, text messages (SMS) serve as a gateway for mobile engagement. When the elderly are provided with an easy way to send such messages, they can reach their children and grandchildren quickly and easily. This could be especially important when emergencies or urgent health issues arise. Many of the phones that are being sold to seniors have slider screens, so people with fingers stiff from arthritis can send text messages with ease.
Special Features That Make a Difference
An array of additional features can be of great assistance to an elderly individual. The Pantech Flex provides seniors with the ability to dial and perform other functions by making voice commands. This smartphone also offers predictive text technology: The technology predicts the next word as a senior is texting, which can spare a person with poor vision or arthritis from much unnecessary time, effort, and discomfort. According to Huffington Post contributor Jim T. Miller, the Pantech Flex also features what its manufacturer refers to as the “Easy Experience,” which includes text and icons that are easy to see, as well as quick and easy access to many of the phone’s most popular features.
Since some health problems can cause a certain degree of physical weakness, having a lightweight smartphone can be helpful. Repeatedly lifting a heavy phone can result in discomfort and deter a person from wanting to use the device. The Palm Pre Plus is one example of a smartphone that is very lightweight (it weighs less than half of a pound) but that offers other features that the elderly will find useful, such as a keyboard that is easy to use and a touch screen.
The marketers and tech companies of today can do much to appeal to potential customers who are elderly. Using advanced technology is a major aspect of modern culture. Smartphones and text messages can be essential tools for senior citizens, who sometimes need to reach their relatives and health care providers on an immediate basis. When companies include seniors in their marketing campaigns, they are benefiting themselves as well as their elderly customers.