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Linux PC for seniors


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We've heard many times about the state of Linux, that some distros are not user-friendly enough and have yet to pass the grandparents test (i.e. easy enough for them to use). Although many of the current proprietary operating systems have built-in accessibility features for the physically impaired, they are not turned on by default, with users often unaware of its presence.

Yet senior citizens still have a lot to contribute to society. Think about the knowledge they hold, the experience they have and the wisdom that has yet to be shared. How often is it passed down to the next generation? How often does the youth of today listen?

Enter Mee Swa (flash required), a Singapore-based company whose name means "longevity noodles" in Chinese. It is launching its easyPC product, calling it the first senior-friendly computer. Not only does the company assemble and sell easy-to-use hardware, it has also prepared a specialized Linux distribution based on Fedora Core 5. The company, with its programmers from Indonesia and around the region, has crafted a user interface that is ideal for those over 45 years old and who have yet to ever touch a computer.

Big buttons, large LCD screens with enlarged standard fonts, and clearly marked menus are just some of the easyPC's offerings. Mee Swa is also hoping to help develop a computer-literate community within the aging population, offering peer-to-peer training with teachers who are senior citizens themselves.

The company hopes its solution will promote inter-generational bonding as well as develop a customer base that shares photos, videos and make new friends. It cited one of its first customers, a 72-year-old pensioner who has been using the easyPC to surf the Internet and send email to his children living in the US for nearly a year. He plans to step up to using Skype soon.

It is important to note that this company is not only about a specialized Linux distro that can be freely downloaded, it offers a complete solution from hardware purchases to aftersales support. Consider the marketplace. There are many seniors in Asia, especially Japan, who are slowly being left behind in the IT revolution. While everyone is sending out email or instant text messages with video, this greatest generation is still trapped with the old medium of postal mail and photo albums.

As the aging population grows, governmental programs as well as other businesses will begin to focus on improving the living standards of seniors. And considering the benefits a Linux solution can offer, let alone the low barriers to entry (no expensive licensing fees) as well as the social media aspect of the Internet for seniors, it is surprising there aren't many businesses like Mee Swa.

Of course there are still some obstacles that must be overcome. Native language support will be crucial for markets such as Singapore and Japan, while convincing seniors that computers are not a fearful beast is another. Make no mistake, committing to this specific market segment may be a difficult path.

But imagine a world where seniors worldwide are empowered to blog about their life experiences online, leaving a legacy for all to see. Such treasured thoughts would further enhance the power and value of the Internet, far more than whatever "value" that greedy software companies and telcos provide when raising their prices. It would also bring tremendous karma to the businesses that help empower our greatest generation.

Fonte: CNET Asia

Isto sim, pode ser uma galinha dos ovos de ouro para esta empresa, no caso de ter alguma divulgação e sucesso. Eu oferecia um destes aos meus avós e dava-lhes umas aulinhas... 😉

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Teria de ver 1º até que ponto é que o PC era userfriendly.

PS: Um dos meus avós usa PC, para MSN e Skype 😉

Segundo a descrição do artigo, o PC traz uma distribuição baseada no Fedora Core 5, com icones enormes, janelas de fácil navegação, etc, tudo preparado para os utilizadores mais distraídos, menos experientes e, acrescento num toque de piada, com mais problemas de visão. 😛

Quanto a hardware, penso que se deve vender por aí coisa muito pior a preços muito mais caros e que não traz um SO instalado, o que obriga o novo utilizador a comprar um SO, como acontece na maioria dos casos da actualidade.

A vantagem deste produto está no bundle hardware + software, o que poupa trabalho aos novos utilizadores, habitua-os desde o início a usar software livre e open source e acima de tudo, faz com que estas pessoas entrem de certo modo na sociedade da informação. 🙂

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