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Elderly Need Super-Simple, Phone-like Skype

By now many of you have probably seen, and chuckled about, this delightful video that went viral of a senior couple goofin’ around with their webcam. These two are trying to figure out how to use it (and having fun in the process) but the humor obscures the reality: Using a computer, using Skype, and making certain Skype’s audio/video inputs are set correctly is befuddling to most senior citizens!

Let me tell you a story that may mirror many of your own to illustrate why we need a brain-dead-simple Skype phone that is as cheap, super-simple to operate, and as powerful as a landline phone.

It’s a few years ago and I’m in my home office on a Saturday, facing the street and my neighbors house across it. I bear witness to my elderly neighbors — he a fairly tech-savvy retired Fortune 100 executive and she a loving mother and grandmother — saying a very emotional farewell to their son, daughter-in-law, and two toddler grandsons. 

The son is an executive at a different Fortune 100 company and the family was headed to Europe for two years to open a new line of business. My elderly neighbors would have only one visit during that time and I immediately thought, “Oh geez…those two boys will grow up so fast and forget them” so I had to do something.

I sent my neighbor and email clearly laying out all of the power of Skype, that it was free, that if he and his son each had a webcam that they could see one another and talk often. The biggest reason to do it was to maintain (and continue to build) grandpa and grandma’s relationship with those two little boys.

Not hearing anything for two weeks, I feared that I’d stepped WAY out of bounds as a neighbor. But what happened next surprised even me.  [Read more…]