Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Yayagram (twitter.com/mrcatacroquer)
1265 points by paulhart 17 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 175 comments

I built out a simple "technology access" solution for my late grandma about five years ago. It was just some simple scripts running on a raspberry pi. The scripts would fetch emails from a gmail account, extract the attachments, and display them on loop. The subject line of the email, sender and the date were overlayed on the image.

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!

For anyone in a similar situation I'd suggest trying with a regular PC or iPad first and seeing how that goes.

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.

Kudos to you for doing that, and I'm sorry for your loss. I set up something similar a couple years ago for my 94-yo grandmother with failing eyesight, though my solution was a bit more off-the-shelf; I set up an old 32" TV and chromecast as a smart picture frame that would rotate through images from a specific Google Photos album. I then sent out a link and gave write access to the album to all of our family. Unfortunately it's now getting to the point where she even has trouble seeing those pictures. We also had success setting her up with an Echo with our Amazon Prime (got Unlimited Books) account to facilitate her listening to Audible books; every couple weeks or so we make her a curated list of Audible titles on Prime and she checks off which ones she wants and someone will load those up for her. The best part is that with her newer hearing aids, the Echo can play straight into her head over Bluetooth!

I wish I could buy and ship this to my mom. Don’t have the time to set it up and she lives far away.

I have bought this for my grandma that live on a senior home: https://www.noisolation.com/global/komp

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!

A shame this is only available in Europe....

Thank you! Will check it out. One knob only sounds about right for my parents!

Looks great, thank you for linking

Having lost my mom... You might want to make that time.

I can relate so much to this. can't agree more. make time for your parents

you can hire some local student to do the job, as long as you know how it should be done, any tech savvy highschool/uni student should do

You could get a Google Max and use Duo calls.

I do that with my mother and it works well. However, it wasn't easy at all to set up, and she couldn't have done it on her own. The timing was fortunate since I got it for her before the pandemic.

You can, the company is called Nixplay.

There are so many beautiful UI hints with this.

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.

> These plugs have more leeway if not plugged all the way in than micro style plugs

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!

I feel sad using homepods as intercom... I wish I had a button now.

Unfortunately, I think Apple hasn’t open this api yet

Two interesting things about this project.

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 use of an XLR cord is a stroke of genius. Having the state of the machine clearly visible and manipulatable by people with fine motor problems solves 90% of the problems I encounter when volunteering with the elderly.

It appears to be using an 1/4" patch cord, not an XLR cable! XLR is the cable (and connector) with 3 pins as is used with microphones and carries a balanced signal - 1 leg is ground, then the other two are inverted signals to minimize noise.

A single 3 pin XLR will only carry balanced signal for a single channel (which this might as well be). For stereo you either need two 3 pin XLR (as is the case for interconnects in high end or pro audio) or a single 4 pin XLR (as is found in high end headphones).

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


Brilliant yes, but lest anyone think it's XLR-specific:


I assume it's also the reason for 'bi-wire' speakers, while we're on audio gear.

Yeah, you're right. My brain made the association between XLR and generic audio cables without thinking.

This is brilliant. A single device that does one thing, and does it (hopefully) really well. It is a much needed antidote to the "all in one" apps we are seeing more and more of.

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.

Bothers me to no end how many once simple devices have gone this way. I feel like I would be willing to pay more for simpler appliances at this point.

Touchscreens and tiny computers are cheap and getting cheaper. It’s easier than manufacturing specific components for “simpler” devices. I just wish companies would stop pretending like it’s an advanced feature rather than a cost-cutting measure.

Reason I will never buy a Tesla. But everyone else is jumping into the touchscreen mania too sadly. A touchscreen in a car jeez.

In my garage are a Tesla and a Subaru. They're both the first new cars I've ever owned and both are far more technologically advanced than anything I'd previously driven. So I'm a great guinea pig for testing modern car UIs.

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.

i've driven dozens of cars in my life. only recently have i gotten a car with a touchscreen (a 2020 civic hatchback).

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.

My washer and dryer are as advanced as I want laundry equipment to be. Physical dials to choose settings and my phone dings when a cycle finishes. The next time I buy a washer (hopefully many years from now) I think it's going to have a complex touchscreen with all sorts of features that get in the way of the "Spin dial to x setting and press Go" UX that's insanely easy to use.

Oh, god, this. Specifically simple appliances that are designed to be repaired.

What's the benefit of having a dozen or more repairable appliances that use far more material and expense than an occasionally replaced all in one?

My wife can't "operate" the TV.

Of course, part of that is how I have it set up (connected to Mac mini, etc.).

This is why I really enjoy the Kindle I just bought. A single use: reading books.

I feel the same way. I love its simplicity. Especially now that I found the setting to make my library the default view instead of the library/store combo screen. I have a baby, and the one-simplicity of my Kindle means I can read a book while rocking her to sleep and rubbing her back.

Doesn't the Kindle have a browser too? If you'd like to pay mess and be able to do even less, you can try reMarkable.

The Kindle browser is designed to encourage you to give up on the Web and read more books.

Kindle browser is so shitty that nobody would use it.

The kindle browser is so unusable that you wouldn't even be bothered with it.

On top of the points others in this thread have made, I think this is also a lesson for UX designers. It's really obvious how the Yayagram works and how to use it and this is how our UX should be.

As a former UX designer, this is a wonderful device and I love it. It was clearly made with a particular user in mind and they thoughtfully designed around the user constraints.

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.

Yeah i feel like a new UX idea isn't fully appreciated till many years later when they're widely accepted

NUIs: iNuitive User Interfaces used to be (perhaps still is) an interesting design philosophy in the UX space. The goal being to build a system that a brand new user fresh off the boat could walk up to and intuit what the system could do and how to manipulate the system to solve their problems. Though this is complicated by our thought patterns and habits being altered by just interacting with computer systems. So, it becomes hard to pinpoint exactly what "intuitive" means to an audience as wide as the entire population or even small groups like "university students".

Thinking this way becomes incredibly important as systems move from dedicated devices further into coordinated actions of ubiquitous devices.

Does NUI not stand for Natural User Interface? iNtuitive is definitely Non-intuitive.

Probably an attempt at the time to expand the scope of the acronym as the natural user interface concepts are older.

I absolutely love it but is it really obvious how the jack connection thing works? I would imagine only to former switchboard operators and modular synthesizer players.

The cable could be replaced with a rotary switch with stops for each recipient. I’d also add a picture of each grandchild in addition to the name. But overall, this is an awesome idea :-)

I could see this, maybe each time the dial settles into its little ka-thunk index might also play “hello grandma” in the grandchild’s voice.

Or a set of radio buttons (i.e. from an actual radio).

The old radio metaphor would work pretty well!

It should be obvious to just about anyone who was born in the last 100 years[0], as they should be all familiar with the basic principles of electrical devices: you power a device by connecting it with an outlet using a wire[1]. The underlying concept here is that a wire can transfer something useful from one point to another. Like electricity. Or, in this case, a voice signal.

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.


[0] - 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.

[1] - 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.

Or anyone who has used wired headphones.

What's the lesson here? Yes this is a simple UI, but if put next to an iPhone which one will a billion+ people pick?

Although the iPhone is a more popular device it doesn't fill the accessability needs of all users. Just as many countries have disabilities acts for manufacturing and civil engineering, shouldn't technology and platforms have something similar?

I want one. In fact I want there to be a whole line of quirky hardware interfaces to do simple things that we usually use a phone or computer for. They’re fun and I think kids would love them.

My (old) entry is a nightstand that prints photos you email it, and emails documents put into the drawer: https://johnkestner.com/tableau/

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'm following his twitter account just to catch the instructable he's promised to write.

Agreed! Give it a killer steampunk look and you've got yourself a win!

There was a kids “radio” project with a similar ethos posted a couple weeks ago!

I built this for my ~1.5 year old who loves music: https://twitter.com/bradfitz/status/1341470798825984001 .... a Raspberry Pi keyboard (no screen) with stickers on the keys that controls the Sonos.

I think it's amusing to imagine what the fifty-years-from-now equivalent of this might look like. "I built a fake 'cell phone' that lets my grandpa 'text' me, it translates the words into thoughts and beams them directly to my neural implant."

Probably be a web service that does that for you. Like those old fax webservices.

My bank sometimes requires me to "fax" documents to them using a phone number. I download their electronic documents, upload them to my esigning programing, esign them, then e-fax them using the esigning program to their fax "number". I'm sure on their end, they download the electronic "fax" and put it directly into their document system. There is no paper at any point in this process.

I was impressed when I bought a car for the first time and the dealership had a gigantic touchscreen for reviewing and signing all the paperwork. Took away the needless cycle of printing and scanning papers in an otherwise digital workflow.

What's the point of esign if they are never going to confirm it with the esign service?

For folks interested in technology that helps to keep our less-technological relatives connected, I highly recommend NanaGram[0].

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.

[0] - https://nanagram.co/

NanaGram founder here. (I use F5bot to get alerts of mentions.)

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.

This is really neat. It has me thinking about my own grandma who loves getting pictures on her phone, but is that the best interface for her? What if I could send pictures and they'd automatically print out, I think she'd like that even more. I think it's funny because that's a pretty easy thing to set up, but I never considered it until now.

What if I could send pictures and they'd automatically print out

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.

You'd need to constantly clean the printer and refill/change ink.

Better to use print and mail service.

Combine this with the email based picture display and you’re set. Just an rPi and an inkjet.

This is incredible, I wish there were more analogue centered devices for older people with both hearing and vision loss. The combination makes it virtually impossible to interact with any well designed software because it's all touch screen and way too complicated. But also makes it impossible to interact with the limited number of phones with analogue buttons because they are usually feature phones with even worse designed software than touchscreen phones and at that point the analogue buttons don't really help at all. So yeah this is truly incredible.

Would a touch screen monitor with a clean UI be so hard to use?

This is brilliant, but maybe I missed it: what happens when yaya's run out of thermal paper? It feels like the Achilles' heel of this design. Perhaps, a blinking LED for out of paper situation? Can yaya change the roll herself? I'm concerned about it because I loved this project in all aspects, I want it to be perfect.

Perhaps (depending on yaya's ability), it could detect a low-paper situation, and send a message to the creator, or perhaps order a new one directly?

These rolls usually have red lines on the last bit to warn you that it is getting to the end. Like this: https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51mKXo5QBML...

Thanks, that’s much better. I hope yaya notices it and lets her grandson now.

Yeah, I hope the creator did something like that. I'd be sad if the thing would just stopped printing and yaya would wonder why there were no replies to her messages anymore.

My thoughts are that the font should be larger for the names and and for the text output. Ideally include pictures next to the names, so even if it's hard to read, it would be easy to spot who you want to connect to. I didn't see it, but you also probably need a notification to reload the paper roll as you come to the end. This could be a warning LED and it could also be a warning text sent to some or all of the people on the other end of the YAYAGRAM that Yaya is running low on paper, can you help her reload?

> you also probably need a notification to reload the paper roll as you come to the end.

I think you just buy the paper rolls that are pink for the last (innermost) few feet of the roll.

Knowing some of the older people in my family, I'd be an hour into a phone call when they'd casually mention that their message box hasn't worked for the past month since it ran out of paper but they didn't want to be a bother and make me come over and fix it.

Add software to count how much paper is used and remind the maintenance tech when it's time for refill.

This is the reason why I like Telegram so much more than WhatsApp. The fact theres an API and the possibility to write bots makes all the difference.

I firmly believe there is a market for this. Please, someone, make it a commercial reality.

I think it needs a scanner to turn letters into txt/email

Even a camera on the edge could work pretty well with the right image transformations.

A printer driver, that could optionally print "the last photo received" to an inkjet printer, would be another great addition for a doting grandparent.

Do you really want it to print scammy ads once in a five messages?

Since I had kids, I've started using Google Photos automatic Albums (with face recognition) to share photos of my kids to the family (really out of my lazyness of sending it through whatsapp groups). My wife's grandma (86 y/o) is in that shared group and see the photos e-v-e-r-y-d-a-y. Recently she shared how important it is to her to see her grandgrandkids videos and photos during these lockdown times. There is all this talk abou how tecnology keep us apart but there are many use cases, like this, where it helps brings us together. In the past (grand)grandparents would stay months or even years without seeing and following their families lifes.

See also: ad-free smart TV for elders - https://m.habr.com/ru/post/511060/

Does anybody work on translating the best habr.com articles into English?

I used to do it. You might remember there was a project called kukuruku.co – quite a lot of submissions from that domain were on the front page of HN. But, it was super hard for me to monetize the project, so I abandoned it. Fun fact: the founder of Habr wanted to buy the project from me, but I declined his offer.

When I'm asked to find some phone or other technology for an elderly relative, I'm always concerned about the usability of devices.

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.

The biggest problem we have faced, unfortunately, is the proliferation of modern security features.

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.

I know this idea is a little ridiculous, but it just popped into my head: what about using one of those rubber ducky USB keys that pretend they're a keyboard and enter certain keystrokes? You could have it enter the password when inserted.

Or, perhaps a physical password manager that can store multiple passwords, with a labeled button for each?

I'll have to look into that -- it might work.

I don't know which brand you looked at but I'm pretty sure Chromebooks support fingerprint login for some time now (check this HP support page for ChromeOS for instance [0]).

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.

[0] https://support.hp.com/us-en/document/c06917763

FWIW, fingerprint login has never worked for my elderly parents. The combination of drier skin, shaky fingers, and poorer sense of pressure means they could never get it quite right. (And on iPhone, always ended up pressing the home button.)

I’ve noticed in the last decade that my fingers too have less oil and I sometimes have to wet my finger.

I have the same problem with my parents and I initially thought the Windows 10 pin screen was quite good for this. You only need 4 numbers, I set it to my birthdate and it's made things somewhat easier for them.

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.

You might want to try him with a password manager.

It seems tempting to solve technological problems with more technology, but my experience is more technology is more problems. The password manager will update/ask for updates. It will ask about auto fill or saving passwords, etc. The people with password understanding problems definitely don’t understand password management problems!

1Password has worked well for my 90-year-old mother. I disabled the "ask to save password" option. If she needs a new account on something - which doesn't happen very often - I just use Screen Sharing (we both have Macs) and set it up for her. I also have her 1Password account syncing to mine. Although I do still get support phone calls when there's a glitch, it's worked out very well on balance, compared to the amount of support she needed before with account setup and not using the same password everywhere.

Syncing the passwords to your own computer so that you can set them up is a genius idea.

Unfortunately, Chromebooks also disable perpetual screen-sharing (in order to prevent very-real scam behavior), too. :-/.

A lot of companies and people don't really appreciate how much training is really needed to operate even the simplest of mobile phones.

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.

My experience with this differential leads me to believe the train stems largely from caution and expectations.

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.

> A small child has zero degree of caution.

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.

Two-year olds have a lot less experience with how the world works, and so both have less to unlearn, and more patience to try lots of things that don't work until they find the one thing that works.

Yeah, this is something I too struggle to understand. A kid new to it quickly gets the basics of an iPad. But a grandma struggles with it. Maybe all their preconceived notions cause a mental barrier for some older folks in adopting new technology? Maybe it's just that people are variable in their adaptability and there probably will be kids too who find using an iPad really hard.

I made a sister comment slightly after yours (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26983932), but I think it's also worth noting that the two-year-old probably comes to the iPad with the idea of playing with it and seeing what happens. It's easy to make something happen on an iPad, and the two-year-old is delighted by most of the responses.

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.

Maybe all their preconceived notions cause a mental barrier for some older folks in adopting new technology?

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.

I don't know, a common issue I have seen is pointing the camera towards their face during a video call. These are people that have been taking pictures with regular cameras for decades, but give them a smartphone and they can't target their face to save their lives. They're not stupid, and I don't think it's a new concept, it's just digital instead of analogic. But a lot of older people struggle, I don't understand.

A regular camera has one function - to take photos of what it's pointing at. Phone cameras are often hidden in the screen of a device that does a huge number of different things.

This is amazing. I can think of several relatives who would absolutely love something like this over struggling with a touchscreen.

This is brilliant. It can help connect an entire generation that might otherwise be “left behind” in a thoughtful and meaningful way.

I work on a company that is squarely targeted at the market of people who don't have Internet. Nearly 10% of Americans don't have Internet, the vast majority are older. During COVID, at least in my family, it was pretty stark. My grandmother didn't see a video of my nephews for essentially a year, as she was quarantined and doesn't know how to use a smartphone or tablet. She also doesn't have WiFi, so 'smart frames' and the like aren't an option (nor is this device unfortunately). It's a real market of real people.

Are there LTE “dumb smart frames”?

Not to my knowledge. If anyone is interested in building one get in touch, it would be a fun thing to build. Right now we let people to mail videos [1]. Think a greeting card, but which plays your home movies.

[1] - https://sendheirloom.com

Hey this is cool! Looks like a great idea for an underserved market, well executed.

This is so great. I'm really moved by the author's empathy and love. Those of you who are lucky enough to still have grandparents (or parents for that matter), please take inspiration to connect with them while you still can. Life is short, and nothing in the world can take the place of family.

Cool! So.. as much as I love the Yayagram, I think people underestimate the elderly and willingness to learn something that "makes sense" and technology that does not work against them.

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.

Is there a video of a gramma using it?

Super cute and well executed project.

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!!".

That's on the grandchildren. They need to learn how to reply to Yaya. "kthnx" won't work, but this will: "Hi Yaya, I just listened to your message about my first day back in school. Yes, I'm a little nervous about being around so many people after a year at home, but mostly I'm excited about seeing my friends again and getting to play sports. How are you? I hope your knee isn't acting up and you can get outside today. It looks like the weather is beautiful over there right now."

How about using some service to convert Grandma's speech to text, sending it as text to gkid, then gkid replies to it by "quoting it" (you long press the message, & then type reply, reply shows the original message too). Then printer prints both messages as bubbles or like paragraphs.

That's really awesome. Then this comment:

"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.

I really appreciate the coverging of retro machines with modern APIs. I've been working on a smart home solution (automated blinds, etc), I really want to build a control panel with lots of physical switches like the Yayagram now

Something like this needs to be made commercial at a reasonable price-point :-(. It will help bridge the technology gap between aged grand-parents who aren't comfortable with modern tech and up-to-date grand-kids who live in far-flung places and are more comfortable with the newer methods of communication. Also connecting to a network must be made transparent somehow in these devices like Kindle's WhisperNet.

I would say the single biggest issue right now is the cost of an LTE modem and service. Cursory research shows a fully integrated modem is on the order of $44 at small quantities. Obviously cell phone manufactures get that number way down but they also manufacture at very high quantities.

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.

Is LTE necessary? It seems that 3G or even 2G might suffice, and might be cheaper?

I would assume those networks will be shut down sooner rather than later in most places. I think 2G already is gone in the US.

My grandmother uses a smartphone since the first Samsung Galaxy Note, the first smartphone to have a big screen about 10 years ago. She is doing perfectly fine to receive and send text messages, photos, videos, and give audio and video calls.

Is there a way to create something like this for video calls? An always-on device that can make calls through Skype or similar? Or are the protocols too closed and apps too unavailable to make it possible.

You could probably use an iPad in kiosk mode (single app always shown) mounted with an always-connected charger.

There have been more than one startup with the idea that an iPad should sit on your wall as a window into another person’s house.

Alexa devices have auto answer mode

Sometimes, the fact that my parents and grandmother are so good with technology disappoints me because I have fewer chances of building cool stuff like this.

Back in the 2000s, my mother & grandmother communicated via fax because grandma didn't have a computer. This makes sense to me!

Congrats on your project, looks promising! Thanks for using tg fork. If you've any new changes, feel free to send PRs.

This is such a beautiful project!

Can I buy this or would like to make one in partnership with someone!

I wonder if it's harder to voice-to-text your average Yaya.

Yaya: "Oh what the hell has this crazy kid made now..."

really inspiring

This is cute but bearing in mind most of today's grandparents (at least in the West) have had decades of using computers professionally and at least a good few years using tablets and smartphones, I really think the pitch should be directed elsewhere. I especially don't think they would appreciate a 'telegram' feature!

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.

Look, let me put this another way, since I'm being downvoted.

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.

It's called that because they made it specifically for their grandmother. Do we really need to state that it's going to depend on the particular person and their needs?

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.

Please don't post in the flamewar style to HN. If you're answering a comment that you think is incorrect, do so in a netural and/or friendly way. Otherwise you just make the thread worse, no matter how right you are or feel you are.


My apologies, will edit.

Thanks for all your work, dang.

> 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.

Ok, fair enough, I accept your argument.

Actually, I wanted to say something very similar. And when you said it was for his very specific _96_ year old grandma, I went back and checked if I missed the obvious. But a quick 2nd scan (and a search on the string 96) didn't bring it up. I'm not saying you're wrong, indeed I'm pretty sure you're right, but it's very-very far from obvious.

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.

As an aside, manual switchboards survived longer than you may think. My summer job in the 1980s was as a telephone operator on a manual switchboard. This was in California. I don't think they completed the switch to digital until the 90s. And I did get the distinct impression that grandma had been a #cablegirl.

FWIW, the author’s grandmother is twenty-six years older than your mother:


> My Yaya is Felisa Romano Martin, from Segovia, 96 years old, and she is the best Yaya in the world.

That tweet goes along with an impressive picture of the Alcázar de Segovia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site medieval castle: https://www.eladelantado.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/ALc%... [1]

More info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alc%C3%A1zar_of_Segovia

[1] Source (Spanish): https://www.eladelantado.com/segovia/la-imagen-segovia/

you put an ipad in front of my 80 year old grandma and she'll have NO idea how to use it. Even after training her and walking her through using it multiple times. She just won't remember.

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

This is very far from being true as a generic statement. My parents are around 80 and they are not the only ones of this age I know who can use these devices pretty efficiently. (They both have an android smart phone plus they have a Linux laptop. They use these all the time. Oh, and they watch content and listen to internet radio on their Kodi running on a RasPi.)

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.

The device isn't being pitched to old people who know how to use an iPad. It's being pitched to old people who don't. So your mum has nothing to worry about.

I was about to say the same thing, but it seems you got flak for it. Here in the UK, a large percentage of 70+ year olds (my Father is 75) are totally au fait with mobile phones, computers and tablets. In fact a lot of older folk have moved to large tablets as it's easier to zoom the text and scroll around for people their age.

Maybe it's a country-by-country thing?

I only wish it weren't named Yaya, as I hate promoting the idea that old women are the pinnacle of technological ineptness. I know that wasn't the intent, but still. It's unfortunately a common expression to say "This product is so easy, even your grandmother can use it!" As if the only group more incompetent than old people, is old women (or, if you prefer, the only group more incompetent than women are old women).

I really think it's time to consciously move away from this outdated meme.

I get what you're saying, but it's a one-off thing that the guy built especially for his Yaya.

Totally get that. My point is that "Even your grandmother can use it" is still a common saying, combining both sexism and agism, and we should stop promoting that notion.

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?

You realise that (typically) an uncle would be one generation younger and thus have decades more exposure to technology, hence "so simple my uncle could use it" doesn't really work.

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.

Absolutely. I'm very sensitive to that kind of thing because I have a 90-year-old mother who I hate people writing off like that. But unless I missed it he doesn't say "Even your grandmother can use it" in his thread does he? I just feel like you're picking the wrong item to hang this argument from.

The inventor was not generalizing, but when it starts moving from his one-off to a product idea (as lots of folks are asking for him to productize it) that where my argument comes in. Most likely this won't be a real product anyway, so I suppose I'm just trying to draw attention to this meme that does happen a lot.

I see you're getting a bunch of downvotes. I hope I didn't bring those on - I know you're engaging in good faith and I agree with your basic premise. It would make a good blog post if you fancied writing it and posting here.

Agreed. The "even a mom can do it" is broken on so many levels. There's a documentary about the developers of Mozilla, and one of them makes a comment while golfing (I think) in response to this cliche. He says, "My mother writes optimizing compilers." Can't remember the film or the person, but they were wearing launch t-shirts that read "zaro boogs" (zero bugs) still sticks in my head.

EDIT: Pretty sure it was "Code Rush", 2000. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_Rush

If you know that wasn't the intent, why make this complaint at all?

This type of bland complaint is just a common way nowadays to signal that you are part of the In-group, that cares about people.

I can assure you that I am not luxuriating in the benefits and privileges of this fabled "In-group", and that I'm only trying to draw attention to the fact that the common expression "So simple even your grandmother will understand it" is demeaning to both women and old people. Clearly you don't care about that, so there's little for us to discuss.

When people use the expression "So simple even your grandmother will understand it" I don't think they are trying to insult anyone. But... it is an insult, whether it was meant that way or not.

"Gram" also means grandma. The full English translation of this name is "Gramgram"

> Gramgram

which also means grandma :)

Gramagram would be another good name for this device

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact