Senior-friendly Smartphones

In the case of increasing life expectancy and low fertility rates, the percentage of elderly in Singapore is on a rise. The percentage of elderly aged 65 and above increased from 7.3% in 2000 to 9.3% in 2011.

This percentage is expected to rise up to 18.7% by 2030. This shows that the percentage of elderly in Singapore has been and will be increasing drastically over the years. Indeed, the ‘silver tsunami’ is approaching Singapore.

With the growing concern for the elderly, ideas and innovations are constantly tapped into to find new ways to counter the problems the elderly faces.One such take was by a Singapore-based sustainable business incubator, Silverline — which has decided to take on an initiative with SingTel. While several elderly are unable to afford to buy and use smartphones due to the price and perhaps not being IT-savvy enough, Silverline has offered an ingenious way which can kill two birds with one stone. One, it solves the problem the elderly faces. Two, it also reduces e-waste, which is an environmental problem.

 “The mobile phone industry works by enticing customers to swap their old phones for new ones in just a year or two. That is a tremendous waste. Electronic devices can leak toxic chemicals once they are disposed of.” – Silverline

Sliverline saw an opportunity in these wastes and decided to turn it into their advantage to them. By introducing a new policy, SingTel customers who are renewing their contract and purchasing a new smartphone with SingTel will be offered the option of gifting their old devices to a senior citizen. In this way, both parties are able to gain something out of it. When the user decides to get the newest model, his/her older phone still can come into good use and benefit the society (in this case, the elderly) and also the environment (in this case, decreasing e-waste).

By collaborating with SingTel, the user also gets to enjoy the benefits such as having a cut in their monthly bills.

Therefore and however, these smartphones that the elderly can expect are not just any ordinary smartphones. They are refurbished second-hand devices that come along with senior-friendly apps installed.

An example of such an application is Connect, which presents the contact list in a visual format to aid the visually impaired.  Another senior-friendly application, Well Being, provides reminders for taking medicine, drinking water, and doing exercise.

These are just some of the apps that are available out of several others, which can be found here.

Furthermore, if a user decides to nominate a senior citizen they know (normally it would be their parents), a refurbished smartphone by Silverline will be provided on the spot — with the addition of a mobile plan being fee for the senior citizen and will be added to the customer’s existing monthly mobile bills. This in turn for the business parties involved will create a new market.

The solution also poses some challenges to be overcome. Even though social workers are available to help out the elderly in using the smartphones, it will still take time for the elderly to get used to it.

Here is a video on how one of the many elderly is being impacted.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ug8wSAGfSU&feature=player_embedded

We believe that this project is the start of a neat solution socially, environmentally and economically.

Sources and references:

1)    http://www.singstat.gov.sg/stats/themes/people/popinbrief2011.pdf

2)    http://sgentrepreneurs.com/2012/10/15/with-its-senior-friendly-smartphones-newton-circus-silverline-hopes-to-reduce-digital-divide-save-environment/

3)    http://silverline.mobi/

4)    http://www.intmath.com/blog/singapores-population-bubble/808

5)    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ug8wSAGfSU&feature=player_embedded

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