O2 launches its old folks’ phone

11 Jun 2009

Accessibility is paramount when it comes to designing technology, and even more so with senior citizens in mind. Phones should be easy to read and easy to dial, as quality of sight and mobility diminishes with age.

O2 has brought the Emporia Life handset to the Irish market, an uncomplicated and accessibility-friendly mobile phone with a large, orange, backlit screen for easier reading.

The handset has a slide-out alphanumeric keypad and four basic keys below the screen, but there is also a hands-free option with ‘Talking Software’, allowing users to convert displayed text to speech format.

On the back of the phone is a large red button for speed dialling to emergency services.

The phone was launched in conjunction with St Andrew’s Resource Centre in Dublin, where a workshop was hosted for the centre’s ‘Silver Surfer’ group to show them handset features.

“Mobile phones are a great resource for senior citizens – playing a part in ensuring the owners’ safety and giving family members peace of mind,” said James Hargis, development manager at the centre.

“However, often the high level of functionality of a phone can mean that using it becomes complicated.

“A phone that offers the essential functions in a user-friendly manner, and that has additional safety features, is a very welcome product. Initial feedback from our members about the Emporia is that they really like it,” he added.

O2’s marketing manager Damian Devaney said the phone is intended to make the company’s products and services more accessible overall, but especially for the elderly.

“Features such as the small buttons on today’s mobile phone keypads, coupled with advanced functionality, can be off-putting. The Emporia phone is specifically designed to offer older customers the option of an uncomplicated mobile handset that may suit their requirements better.”

The Emporia Life handset is available on prepay and contract from O2, priced at €49 on contract and €149 on prepay.

By Marie Boran