Jump to content

Who.. me old? Say it isn't so Ma...


Recommended Posts



No One Needs to Know You’re Absent-Minded


Published: May 30, 2012

YOU may have seen the advertisements for a cellphone with a really big number pad.

You probably have not seen a lot of the phones being used in public because they are just too embarrassing to use.

The phone seems to scream out: “I’m old. I’m so old I can’t see the numbers on a regular cellphone. I’m so old my fingers can’t punch out phone numbers on a regular cellphone.”

But why should anyone else be the wiser? Better technology now available to the general consumer provides a way for older people, or others with impaired vision or dexterity, to use devices without strangers noticing anything unusual.

Consider books. Libraries have special sections of large-print books. But these have never been a satisfying option. The books are clunky. Usually, the selection is limited. They are hard to find in bookstores, though Amazon offers more than 130,000 titles, including best sellers like “The Hunger Games” series and “Killing Lincoln” by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard. In many cases the books are more expensive than the regular versions. “Killing Lincoln” costs $33 for the hardcover large-print edition at Amazon, while the regular hardcover edition is $16.10. A smarter solution: A Kindle or Nook e-reader or iPad. You can crank up the size of the type with the flick of a finger. The price of the books is the same for everyone.

The best part: No one need know that you require “Dewey Defeats Truman”-size type to read.

Apps on mobile devices for newspapers and many magazines allow people to increase the size of the type or the page image.

Let’s go back to problems of using a cellphone. Get rid of the old cellphone and spring for a smartphone. It will be worth it. You can increase the type size on Android and Apple smartphones. In the Settings section of each is a tab for Accessibility. On the iPhone, you can set the phone for up to 56-point type, about six times larger than the type used for this article in the print edition of the paper.

You can also set the phone to speak the type on the screen or zoom in on the type by double-tapping on the screen with three fingers. Android devices come with TalkBack installed, which uses synthesized speech.

If typing is the problem, the phones take dictation. Just touch a single button and ask the phone to call someone.

In newer iPhones, you can use Siri (speech interpretation and recognition interface) to write e-mails or short notes, although sometimes Siri is out of service. A more reliable option is to tap the microphone icon on the keyboard. Dictation takes a little getting used to — for instance, you have to state punctuation — but it works. And many apps use it. It’s handy for compiling grocery lists, for example, so you don’t forget that you need to buy eggs.

And if you are one of those people who hold up the checkout line writing checks at the last minute, or just find credit card swiping difficult to master, Square has an app that alleviates all that trouble with a growing number of businesses. Set up an account with Square linked to a credit card and post a picture of yourself to Square. When you approach the checkout counter, the merchant sees a picture of you on the terminal and your transaction is completed. No card. No wait.

Siri, though, does have one handy function that saves you from looking like a forgetful person. You can have it remind you to do something when you leave a certain location, like work or home. The iPhone alerts you with a reminder when you leave that location. You’ll never forget anything again.

While we are on the subject of memory, technology can come to the rescue as that faculty diminishes. All the note-taking apps aside, the phone can be used in more subtle ways to help you remember things. For instance, if you often forget where you park your car, take a picture of the spot. Actually, take a picture of everything you might forget, even if it makes you feel like the character in “Memento,” who had no short-term memory. No one will ever guess you are struggling to remember something, and it sure beats tattooing your body with vital information.

One of the best free apps for recording your life is Evernote, available for both Android and Apple devices. You can record notes and photos there, like the wine you drank at a restaurant or tasty brand of bacon you tried at a friend’s house. Because it uses optical character recognition quite effectively, you can use it to record business cards, clippings and receipts. Type a keyword and the items appear on the screen.

We are going to have to wait a short spell for two other technological innovations that will ensure we never appear forgetful again. With the development of augmented reality — information layered over the things we see — we will never forget a face. Google has already signaled this is coming, with Google glasses. Wear a pair and when you look at someone, the glasses will recognize who it is through facial recognition software; information about that person will appear on the screen.

Cars that drive themselves are coming too. Google has built one, but other companies want to make them too. No one will yell “Speed up, Grandpa!” when you are riding in one of those.

Technology leaves some gaps, however. Try writing on a tablet (as opposed to typing) and you are restricted to a stylus that is about as thin as an eyebrow pencil. Even for people with supple joints, it is hard to handle.

A few entrepreneurs on Kickstarter are developing styluses that are fatter, but don’t expect significant changes on this front. The diameter of the stylus is a function of the thickness of the mobile device. The stylus is designed to slip into a cradle in the device, so you don’t lose it. As the devices get thinner, so do the little pens.

What else am I forgetting to tell you? :P

SOURCE: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/31/technology/personaltech/new-technology-is-the-ally-of-older-people.html


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
Back to top
  • Create New...

Important Information

This site uses cookies - We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.