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Introducing Kitcal: A personalised tablet for seniors

A Matamata family has created their very own easy-to-use tablet, designed for seniors to keep them socially connected.

Technology is becoming more and more complex and figuring out how to use all aspects of an iPad or iPhone can be difficult, even for Generation Z. So what about our parents and grandparents? These generations have spent the majority of their lives without an iPhone, so learning how to use one to stay in contact with family can be a tedious task.

For Lois Caldwell, using an iPad had been relatively easy over the past few years, however after reaching her 90’s, and tolerating constant Apple updates, she began to find it difficult to stay in touch with family.

Taking matters into her own hands, Lois’ daughter Julie Caldwell decided to design her own easy-to-use tablet as nothing on the market provided the simplicity needed for seniors.

Then came Kitcal.

“The key is simplicity,” Caldwell says. “We consulted experts across many fields to keep ourselves focused on essential features and we just kept working on identifying and removing barriers in existing technology – everything from finding suitable fonts and symbols to using a magnetic charger.”

Kitcal co-founders Julie Blackwell and Julie Caldwell

Kitcal co-founder Julie Blackwell says two of the biggest problems for seniors are using a keyboard and connecting to the internet.

“We eventually eliminated the keyboard altogether, using a mix of response buttons and pre-set emojis instead. And because our tablet comes with a pre-installed SIM card on Kitcal’s shared data plan, it’s ready to go straight out of the box with no worrying about an account or setting up wi-fi.”

Kitcal tablets can receive messages, photos and videos and have a unique calendar display in which family members can remotely set events and reminders. There is also a ‘check in’ function for seniors living on their own to give peace of mind to family.

Blackwell says everything a user may need is on the tablet and family and friends can download the Kitcal Companion app to communicate with it.

“We’re really mindful that this is a Kiwi product to meet our needs, so there will soon be the option to switch the complete tablet display between English and te reo Māori.”

Vodafone is providing the connections for the tablets which chief enterprise office Lindsay Zwart says the digital services company is proud of.

“The Kitcal tablets will help create a more digitally inclusive Aotearoa, keeping senior people in touch with loved ones whilst maintaining their independence,” she says.

“In a year that has accelerated digital uptake while requiring us to isolate at home at times, it is more important than ever that all New Zealanders, from our tamariki to our kaumātua, feel empowered with access to easy-to-use technology.”

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