If you’ve ever bought a mobile phone, iPad or other tablet for your parent or grandparent, you’ll know that the technology we take for granted can be exceptionally challenging for our senior generation.

Until now, there’s been no option for this disconnected group of senior citizens unable to use traditional technology. A fact that Matamata local, Julie Caldwell, discovered when searching for a technology solution for her mother, Lois.

“With my family overseas, we were finding it really difficult for everyone to stay in touch; we really wanted to be able to send photos and messages and keep Lois connected. We tried a number of tablets and phones and she would get frustrated, unable to use them”.

Some seniors are able to master traditional features such as the keyboard, navigating various apps and surfing the net, as well as dealing with potentially stressful notifications about downloads and updates. However many will struggle to grasp these, whether they lose the skills at a later stage in life, are experiencing cognitive decline or other ailments, or are just simply intimidated by learning a new skill. This is particularly difficult if they are living on their own.

Recent New Zealand studies show that digital engagement can enhance the wellbeing of older people, reducing loneliness and supporting family relationships.

Caldwell was determined to find a tablet or app solution for Lois, but nothing provided the simplicity she was looking for. So she set out on what turned out to be a two and a half year journey to develop Kitcal, a personalised and simple-to-use tablet focussed on the essential features, built specifically for seniors.

Mother and daughter spent long hours poring over designs to perfect the tablet’s look and functionality.

“The key is Kitcal’s simplicity” Caldwell says. “We worked with experts to ensure we were using the right fonts, colours and symbols for senior family members”.

The Kitcal tablet can receive messages, photos and videos to which seniors reply with preset emojis.

“We’ve taken off the keyboard which is a major barrier and now responses are easy and stress-free” says Caldwell.

Another key feature is the calendar. Traditional calendar options can be confusing for the senior generation but Kitcal always shows today’s date and time, with family able to set events and reminders remotely.

For seniors living on their own, the ‘check-in’ function provides a short-cut to messaging, giving peace of mind to their loved ones. Seniors can also request a voice or video call at the touch of a button.

It’s just as easy for friends and family, who simply download the Kitcal Companion app to connect with the tablet.

The final barrier to overcome was the internet connection.

“We specifically wanted to make Kitcal complete and ready to use straight out of the box” Caldwell says. “The monthly subscription comes with 2GB or 5GB of data and the SIM card pre-installed so there’s no need to set up a Wi-Fi account or figure out a modem”.

Complete with timber stands and handy magnetic charging connections, the Kitcal tablet really has answered all of the needs of their senior users, putting loved ones minds at rest.

Kitcal is available in English and te reo Māori, with simplified and traditional Chinese coming soon.

Find out more about the Kitcal tablet at www.kitcal.nz