The advantage over those IoT picture frame products was that I could use any display I wanted. A cheap 32" TV was perfect. This was key as her vision degraded. The approach also allowed anyone in the family with email to send her photos, no proprietary apps or accounts required.
She passed away mid-Covid and I didn't get to see her in her final 6 months, but she always bragged of her "picture machine." I think she was the envy of many of her fellow nursing home residents!
Maybe 7 years ago I set my parents (late 70s) up an old PC with Linux and a Gmail account. I was living in another continent so needed a way to send photos to them. Before this the most technologically advanced thing they had used was a VCR - and even that they had issues with. I was expecting they'd try it for a week then get frustrated and never use it again - and probably not say anything until the next time I visited.
Well the opposite happened, they really took to it. My dad even setup an online store trading LEGO. Yes of course there were issues (it took maybe 3 months of video calls to explain how to copy and paste), but they got there in the end.
The other week my uncle (same age, they are twins) talked through setting up my father on Zoom and he joined in a video call with a social group they went to. My mother doesn't use the computer as she has arthritis (and I don't think my father let's her :D), but flicking through Google Photos on an iPad lets her keep up with the grandchildren.
Just one knob to turn it on and adjust the sound.
My other grandma have an iPhone that she barely know how to use (she still have the old one on the wall she love). I first call her, than tell her to tap the green button if she she want to use camera (switch to FaceTime).
This works great for us to keep contact.
Though both of this is solutions only allow us to initiate the contact. Here the Yayagram is brilliant!
1) The shape of the microphone positively urges the user to lean forward and talk into it. Compare to a modern smartphone where it's not at all obvious where the microphone is.
2) The giant red button next to the microphone positively scream "press me to talk", and it's obvious that the red LED will light up when the button is pressed. Removes any "is this thing on"? thoughts.
3) The patch panel is quite genius, it's obvious how to target the desired recipient. One might quibble with the plug systenm, but using the large style plugs is a great choice for unsteady hands. These plugs have more leeway if not plugged all the way in than micro style plugs.
4) The recipients are all in a line, and due to the design, one of them is always selected. That removes any "did I select someone", sa I sometimes experience when sharing on my phone to some social network.
5) What's more, the last selected recipient is persistent, even in the event of a power cut.
6) Thermal printer is genius. Yaya can tear off important messages and carry them with her.
Oh, that's a great point! You could route a simple on/off signal across only the sleeve, and not even use the tip at all. Even if it were only half-way inserted, it would still work.
Edit: looking more closely at the photos, it appears that's exactly what he's doing, neat!
Unfortunately, I think Apple hasn’t open this api yet
1. Just about 100% of the code already existed, it just needed to be stuck together in a classy box. That's pretty damn cool: there's no need to re-invent the wheel for some advanced components, and it means more sophisticated ideas can be built quickly.
2. This has been posted 11 times on HN and it finally went viral: https://hn.algolia.com/?q=yayagram
The way it works is so simple yet genius. Say the main signal is +x. Then one of the pins will carry -x. At the end, the receiving end will invert -x and add the two signals together. This gives x + -(-x) = 2x. So it gives twice the power. Great. So what?
Well, if you introduce noise into the chain, it gets canceled out!
Pin 1: X + noise
Pin 2: -X + noise
Final = pin1-pin2 = X+noise + X-noise = 2X
I assume it's also the reason for 'bi-wire' speakers, while we're on audio gear.
Touchscreens really embody the "all in one" design pattern, and lend themselves to those types of apps. That's after all what they're intended for: interchangeable interfaces. Nice to see a modern service being used with an analog interface.
The great thing about the Tesla is that the important things: park/drive/reverse etc. are all motions on a physical stalk. The rest is done on the touchscreen which has the advantage of being able to have full-text labels and clear submenus for less often used options. It's much more discoverable. The other great thing is that the touchscreen interface has the opportunity to GET BETTER over time.
The Subaru has more buttons and dials than any other machine I've ever owned. It's borderline aircraft cockpit. There is a physical control for darn near EVERYTHING. I love physical controls once you learn them, but figuring out the cryptic symbols for a button while driving is no safer than navigating a touchscreen.
I think there's a sweet spot somewhere between the two: the Tesla has too few physical controls and the Subaru has too many (though that opinion may change over time as I learn them all). I also wonder about interface wear and tear tradeoffs as both vehicles get older.
Don't forget that we also develop muscle memory for touch screens, which is why it takes a week to adjust when a popular phone app (or the whole OS) changes the position of an on-screen control.
The touchscreen is a completely insane device for use in a car. You have to look at the screen to use it. All my previous cars, you can adjust the climate controls, music, stereo etc, while keeping your eyes on the road. With this car? If I want to change the ac mode i have to hit climate and then, staring at the screen, touch the image of the button. On my last honda I knew I could run my fingers over until I hit the second/third button of that row and that was the one I wanted, all the while I had my eyes on the road.
It's dangerous! It's absolutely terrible industrial design and it should be against the law.
Of course, part of that is how I have it set up (connected to Mac mini, etc.).
It’s effective because it’s as simple as possible, and relies heavily (as pointed out by the designer multiple times) on very old metaphors like switchboards, telegrams, and binary state indicator lights. It feels obvious because these metaphors have been in our lives for decades, so we’re very familiar with them. But it doesn’t mean that we didn’t have to learn them at one point. It’s sort of like how the Beatles sound like regular music today, but in their heyday they made very new sounds and lots of people thought it was shit music.
I feel like UX designers are devalued because they often seem to create irritation rather than harmony. Let me tell you, it’s a real pain in the ass making harmonious experiences when you’re playing second fiddle to short term business goals, or even third fiddle to short term engineering constraints. I would love to go into Gmail and declare it a finished product and get the whole team to spend a year figuring out which features we can strip out to simplify the product and design it holistically like this Yayagram, but it’s a terrible business decision so we’re not doing it.
In real life, UX designers are there simply to prevent large apps from devolving into CRUD hell, and it’s nearly Sisyphean.
Thinking this way becomes incredibly important as systems move from dedicated devices further into coordinated actions of ubiquitous devices.
Even if you found someone who's confused by the use of wire in this device, I think a 30 second explanation and demonstration would clear it up forever.
 - Excepting the Sentinelese, and some other remaining groups with zero exposure to industrial-era technology - of which there's very few remaining on the planet.
 - And even in case of people who have never seen electrical devices, you can easily come up with a simple analogies to transfer this concept across all advancement levels. Voice traveling along a taut wire. Water flowing down the gutter. Grain rolling down a chute. Water dripping through, or flowing along, a soaked string. A bolas. Poking a bear with a stick. Etc.
I had started by giving my great aunt a 3com Audrey. She loved this internet appliance, but it couldn't keep up, crashing when she got an email over 1MB.
I’ve been a paid user since the early days and it’s an absolute delight to my grandmother every single time it shows up during the month.
1. Register and get a unique phone number to text
2. Start sending photos to that number via SMS
3. Share the phone number with other relatives and tell them to do the same
4. Grandparent gets envelope of printed photos just like the ones filling their old albums on the shelves
It really is that easy. It’s affordable. And the founder is very responsive to any support inquiries.
It was a service I always wanted to build myself but never had the time. I’m very grateful for it.
 - https://nanagram.co/
Saw Yayagram the other day and love it! My grandma was a telephone operator for decades and would have been over-the-moon using Yayagram. This is a truly underserved space. The elderly lead increasingly isolated lives and products that increase social connections improve quality of life and make people smile!
Thanks for the NanaGram shout-out. I'm grateful for your gratefulness and to be able to work on NanaGram. Happy to answer any question anyone has.
I did that for my mother with a surplus Powerbook and an inkjet printer. I'd just VNC in and print out the picture.
Worked great for a while. Then one day she dumped a cup of coffee into the keyboard. "Oh, it's no big deal. I'm sure you do it all the time," she said. End of pictures.
Better to use print and mail service.
I think you just buy the paper rolls that are pink for the last (innermost) few feet of the roll.
A printer driver, that could optionally print "the last photo received" to an inkjet printer, would be another great addition for a doting grandparent.
A lot of companies and people don't realy appreciate how much training is really needed to operate even the simplest of mobile phones.
I've not really seen any solutions other than making buttons bigger and reducing menu options, I'm sure these are great for those with deteriorating eyesight, but they aren't really offering anything for a person who has never used a smartphone before.
The real solution has to be usable by someone who has never operated _any_ modern technology - It has to be so simple you could maybe even train a dog to use.
An idea of mine is to have a bank of "walkie talkies" - one for each person you wish to speak to.
And this problem is always growing; my parents haven't retired yet, but even they are struggling to use today's on-demand television. What will happen when digital terrestrial TV is shut down and they have to learn to use whatever new interface is on the successor to the inevitably cancelled Android TV.
Chromebooks are awesome in many ways for the elderly, but the fact that you can't disable password entry at startup has been a dealbreaker for my aging father. He can't type easily and is beginning to struggle with passwords.
Paradoxically, this means that he's still running his Ubuntu laptop (he has been using UNIX systems since a DEC Alpha) but getting left behind on a lot of accessibility features and has minimal support from nursing-home staff.
Struggling with passwords has also meant that he is endlessly resetting passwords or creating new accounts, compounding confusion.
It is a tricky set of problems, with no easy answers.
Or, perhaps a physical password manager that can store multiple passwords, with a labeled button for each?
But I agree with the overall tone of what you're saying and I have the same kind of problem with my parents. I think the movement away from common protocols just made it worse, before you could have a simplified client just for the elderly or any other "niche" group and it would work, now if you do something like this for Whatsapp or Instagram you would probably receive a cease and desist letter.
I’ve noticed in the last decade that my fingers too have less oil and I sometimes have to wet my finger.
That was until my mom phoned me telling me her keyboard was broken. Took me a while to diagnose that she was trying to enter letters into the pin-field and it gave no indication that you weren't supposed to do that, it just didn't input any characters.
Also turns out the Windows account metaphor has gotten really confusing since they introduced microsoft accounts that are both local and online but don't necessarily share the same characteristics and now you have like 3 different passwords for the single "account" concept.
I completely agree, but at the same time it's funny that you can take a two-year-old without any formal technology training at all, accidentally leave an iPad where they can get it, and before long they're showing you gesture commands you didn't even know about.
A small child has zero degree of caution. An older person knows they don't know and worries that ignorance will somehow break the device (permanently or temporarily).
A small child usually doesn't have a formal expectation of what they are trying to achieve, it's largely experimentation, maybe with the intent to discover fun or find games, but it's pretty basic. An older person often will have a very specific y'all they would like to accomplish while being aware they aren't totally sure the device can do it, and if it can, how exactly to get the device to do it.
I think these two inputs create a feedback loop that works to promote technology acquisition in children and retard it among older people.
As a parent of small children I regularly have to repair electronic devices that have been temporarily broken (e.g. different languages set, screens locked out, tablet storage filled by thousands of burst photos of the floor) and a small but growing collection of electronic devices that have been permanently broken (e.g. antennas pulled off of radios, keys pulled off keyboards, ports yanked out) by this lack of caution.
> An older person knows they don't know and worries that ignorance will somehow break the device (permanently or temporarily).
This may be rational learned behavior. If they don't have someone on hand to fix issues then with many interfaces it's surprisingly easy to get yourself stuck in a situation where it's not obvious how to get out.
By contrast, someone older but less experienced to technology comes to the iPad with a specific goal in mind. Unlike toddlers, whose whole mission in life is to form an image of what to them is a uniformly mysterious world, these are smart people who don't want to have to learn a whole new paradigm to do one thing. Not only can they not do the thing they want; worse, the motion and lights that accompany their attempts are not delighting to them as to the two-year-old, but somewhere between distracting and unpleasant.
I've observed this as well. The hardest part are the basic concepts. Examples:
- The idea of a "settings menu" itself is somewhat of an alien concept and mostly limited to devices with screens.
- Not all UI elements have obvious meanings if you aren't already used to them.
- The input device itself might be unfamiliar (mouse, keyboard, touchscreen) and the user's brain might be busy trying to understand how to interact with the device at all, let alone do useful things with it.
- Some users never learned the "why" or even the "what" of existing devices, only the "how" -- they don't understand concepts like "applications", they just follow very specific steps that someone laid out for accomplishing specific tasks. This makes it very difficult to discover functionality or adapt to a different UI, because they don't know what anything actually is in the first place.
 - https://sendheirloom.com
To give an example, my 103 year old grandmother didn't know a thing about computers until we gave her an iPad about 6 years ago. Now she's available on FaceTime and e-mails. For some reason she doesn't find messaging interesting. She has a variety of hobbies (like knitting, reading and TV) but she checks the news both in paper format and on the iPad.
I am actually so thankful that iOS is relatively easy to understand and that Apple spent those millions on UX, because it could easily have gone the other way with technology working against her.
But after imagining how this would work in practice, my loved ones sitting down to talk to a box and getting text responses some indefinite time later to recorded messages they might not even remember the contents of (I wouldn't), it seems comically sad. It makes me think of how unsatisfying it is to attempt any real convo over SMS.
Then again, I'm sure it's a supplement to the weekly or monthly video calls they're already having where yaya gets to see and hear their grandkids. But I can't shake the pathetic vision of yaya recording a 10min voice message and then, three days later, getting "school is good thx yaya!!".
"Is there any other way than thermal paper? It can't be processed like normal paper after usage. So it's quite bad for the Environment."
Heh. I wonder how much paper he thinks Yaya is using per annum.
It looks like service is on the order of $0.50 per month per device, plus $0.33 per MB. That's not prohibitive, but it would mean the device would likely have to have a subscription of at least $19 a month.
Also, I know it's not meant literally, but its genderisation as 'granny' is a really problematic cliche that I wish tech folk would stop repeating.
I think my 70 year old mum, who is a grandma, would find it patronising and sexist to have a device pitched to her as an easier to use version of the iPad she is a bloody master of in every way. She's far more adapt than my dad, bless him, but even he can use WhatsApp and the like fine after being shown.
Also, that grandmother is _96_. That is not even remotely close to someone in their ~70s. It is also dependent on the person: one of my grandmothers (around 70) doesn't like ipads, and can operate phones a little bit. My other grandma, similar age, loves her ipad.
You're being downvoted because you're treating this like a generalized business pitch, when it's a specialized hardware project someone did for their own grandmother, and gave it a cute name based on their language. If I made something specifically for my grandmother, I might include "bunica" in the name. Seeing as that's what my whole family calls her, and its a way to say grandmother in Romanian, which is a gendered language.
Also, I fail to see how the gender of the word for grandmother here is relevant for the discussion. Grammatical genders (also called noun classes) are not necessarily related to human sexes, but I digress.
Ok, fair enough, I accept your argument.
Also, the initial tweet itself talks about the issue in pretty generic terms: "a machine that helps our beloved elders to keep communicating with their grandchildren ."
My parents are around 80, and granted my father was an engineer and my mother a programmer they did have exposure to computers from their 40's and 50's. (Actually, my mother started around the age of 30, but my father only when he was 50.) Sure, another 15-20 years make a lot of difference.
However, plugging cables is more 1900's technology (reminds me of the manual switchboards). I doubt too many people alive today remember having to make a call like that as opposed to dialling. They did use radios that had push buttons and most of them for sure used ones with digital tuning. So while it looks very retro, a simple turning knob would have been a lot more sane. (Unless grandma used to be a switchboard operator :) and still has good hand coordination.)
The other thing I don't get is the thermal printer. I mean it's nice as a (very short term) archival device but an LCD screen (or even and e-ink display) would make a lot more sense. Of course, then you have to add scrolling (that could be a tuning wheel-like thing or just up/down buttons). Or well, maybe they would like to hear their grandchildren :).
But I digress: the point is that it was phrased pretty generally and I also think it's very patronizing. (My parents use skype, viber, email, fb chat as they did use SMS and their mobiles.) While sure, there is value in completely tailoring it to the needs of specific person. Just don't think it's in general a good approach.
> My Yaya is Felisa Romano Martin, from Segovia, 96 years old, and she is the best Yaya in the world.
More info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alc%C3%A1zar_of_Segovia
 Source (Spanish): https://www.eladelantado.com/segovia/la-imagen-segovia/
This device is basic and captures all the needs. I think the only other cool feature would be a way to receive voice chats back and play them to her
Of course not all 80 year old will be able to use these efficiently or, for that matter will like using them, but that's a different story. You can still make those easier to use (e.g. with a customized android skin/ui) or build a thing that somewhat looks like an actual but specialized computer.
Maybe it's a country-by-country thing?
I really think it's time to consciously move away from this outdated meme.
To illustrate this, if it was this guy's uncle who was techno-challenged and he named it "Unclegram", probably most people would be scratching their heads. But we see Yayagram and it "makes sense"... because of course grandmothers struggle with technology! See the problem?
It's hard to hide from the fact that seniors are more likely to struggle with technology. You can't sweep that under a politically correct rug. And if we did, people would be less likely to make things like this, because no-one could talk about them.
EDIT: Pretty sure it was "Code Rush", 2000. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_Rush
which also means grandma :)