Mobile Phone innovation for the elderly – or for those who shop

23 02 2009

If you’re like me and store your mobile phone in a bag, I generally either miss hearing it ring, or whilst grabbling for it, miss the call as it trips to voice mail. At this point I then move the phone to my pocket – my husband always re-dials as he knows me well…

Enter the new wave of mobile phones that should help improve this situation. At the Mobile World Congress ‘09 (MWC ’09) many companies were vying for the spotlight with their newest and coolest gadget phones.

LG, Electronics were sporting a new range of wristwatch phone that any James Bond fan would desire. Comprising a chunky wrist watch mobile, with full touch screen and a blue-tooth headset to ease use (sounds interesting) one can continue to shop and talk. Despite it’s small size, it is still jammed with the same multi-media features: a full touch-screen interface, 3G HSDPA and video-calling capabilities. Better still, Orange announced last week that they will be the first operator to offer this Touch Watch phone (LG G910) in Europe later this year. Pity they don’t offer it in different colours. They may need to offer a more girlie style to attract fashionistas.

I also applaud LG for their position on making their mobile phones environmentally friendly. The company’s website states their eco-design concept and new eco-products help create a safer, cleaner world – that’s refreshing news. By substituting harmful materials in their mobile phone production with healthier alternatives it increases energy efficiency and recyclability. At present, no lead, cadmium, and other EU RoHS materials are used in the production of LG mobile phones. The use of nickel is also banned due to the risk of skin irritation. Let’s hope other suppliers will follow.

As mobile phones become an essential tool in our lives, the late adoption by all segments of the market is now taking place. Most people I know over the age of 65 years, generally only recently purchased a phone, or have received one from a concerned family member. Typically they regard the mobile as an emergency tool – to be carried when leaving home in order to make emergency calls. They rarely turn them on, or give out the number, and of course have the same issues that I encounter; the ability to hear the phone ring in noisy stores or streets is a challenge.

Calling all Mobile phone developers, here’s an opportunity for you. In addition to developing those sexy smartphones with tonnes of gadgets – consider what could be developed for the “third age” sector. Yes, I know there a few phones for easy use with large buttons and loud ringtones (visit Doro – congratulations for winning the Stevie Wonder & Friends vision free product award at CES, Las Vegas last month) but that’s it. Why not consider developing a mobile phone brooch? It would be easy to wear on a coat, with volume cranked up to help the owner hear the ring tone. Perhaps a mobile ring phone – powered by voice recognition. Come to think of it, if developers could come up with a range of designs that were funky, I’d consider swapping my phone to secure a model that could be worn to avoid all that rummaging in my bag.

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