gPad, a big iPad for seniors

A largely untapped market of potential computer hardware and software users is the elderly. My elderly relative in Manhattan is 87 years old, lives independently and is healthy and active. The only reliable way for me to get my pictures to display on her screen, is to fly to NYC from Missouri and open them on her computer. I think my situation is not unique. She thoroughly enjoys seeing the images, it is the Mac or Windows keyboard-mouse type user interface she cannot abide.

If America’s elderly cannot abide something, no amount of cajoling will ever get them to use it. There are 35 million over 65 in the USA and growing. There is significant opportunity for simple new touch-screen based software solutions. Here is the idea; iPad-G or gPad. The GrandPad (size), GranPad (age of users), or inevitably; GrannyPad – an ultralight over-sized iPad with special preloaded basic apps for senior citizens that everyone will grow to love.

Programs should by nature default to execution, unless “paused” with single tap which brings up a simple options dialog box. One example is the e-mail program that should automatically download and automatically display or run most attachments. Many computer users would shrink at such an idea, but I think it is an essential function for gPad.

You just tap or click the e-mail icon and your newest e-mail automatically opens. To see the next one you flick the corner tab and the next message appears. If attached are a series of 3 jpeg’s or gifs, a slide show automatically opens the first and then runs all three. That sort of thing. The fundamental idea is having as few user actions required as possible in order to execute most common functions within an app. Programs should always default to Yes and Done automatically.

“One Touch Restore” from a cloud copy of your original settings and latest copies of apps, would quickly fix any problems this philosophy could cause. Whenever you buy/add a new app it ads to your backup restore file on the cloud automatically. It should automatically file downloads by file type into a built in directory or “File Cabinet”. Icon Eyeglasses, “File Viewer” is web based viewer for anything from a pdf to a gif, jpeg, tiff and spreadsheet to common windows or mac doc of any type or vintage. File Viewer reads files from the Web or File Cabinet.

For video with my elderly relative to work, her gPad first needs to already be laying on table. It should ring loudly when I video-call, with the program icon blinking red and the caller’s image, in this case my image, displayed. When she taps my face to answer the video-call should connect and my image go full screen with a small second self image displayed “picture in picture”, for adjusting the camera angle.

It should be convenient for use in the hands, in the lap, or on a table. Target users are comfortable with Magazines & Newspapers. Large but light and thin form factor desired. Big easy to read default fonts and icons. Research focused around 15” 16:9 touch-screen, with HD camera that can be rotated. Big enough to “read and hold like a magazine” yet thin and light enough “to carry under the arm conveniently”. It will often be used on a coffee table.

Family members should to be able to load e-mail address and make other settings, then give it to Mom, and off she runs. Foreseeable special applications include home security and health monitoring. Paramedics could conceivably examine and talk to the patient, while on the way to their home. I suspect it would have a bigger impact than e-book readers. They made reading fun again for many in my age (57) group of 45-65. I read and buy more content now that is is easier for me to do both. What if you could make electronic communications and file sharing easy for millions of people that have given up trying to understand it?

Put an SD card slot in it and offer “HD Touch”, an artist-grade pen tablet program. The graphic designer and photographer types will soon start buying. Soon gPad’s cool new paint, draw, and image editing programs will explode it into new markets. Many are starting to get tired of staring at tiny screens. I will buy two; one for my great-aunt and one for me, to watch movies, read e-media, and communicate from my sofa.

Update 1/13, Panasonic did it


About Dan White

I'm a retired Paramedic and EMS Instructor with 35 years EMS and emergency medical product experience. I love canoes, cars and EMS. I have written a lot about EMS Technology on the Paramedic Blog, the Insights on Innovation column for, on and I can be reached directly at 573-240-0002.
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1 Response to gPad, a big iPad for seniors

  1. Kadawo says:

    Seriously, I would be buying a Gipad tomorrow for my mum if it were available – that’s exactly what I need her to have, right now!

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