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Health

Breaking the barriers of isolation

A new application is bringing technology within the reach of older people

The words 'technology' invokes fear and mistrust, at least until you relate it to the car they drive or the television they watch.

Linda Davidson works for Playora, a company formed with the specific purpose of making it easier to use, so called, 'Smart' technology for  entertainment by elderly people who may have been left behind by digital technology. Linda said: "My mother lives alone, and where once the world was her oyster, re-runs of Monk, and the National Enquirer are now her world. She has no concept of her grandchildren's world that once thrilled and excited her holds no allure whatsoever.

"My mother is not alone. According to Campaign to End Loneliness more than 51 percent of people over 75 years of age live by themselves. Meanwhile Age UK reports that the television is the main companion of 40 percent of older people. That's nearly four million people in the UK. Feeding the brain with curiosity is one of the major inhibitors of Alzheimer;s, declares all the latest research. So I was really interested in how I could get the grandchildren's life to my mum, without the need for her to travel.

"There are loads of videos, saved TED Talks (TED is a nonprofit and devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks, 18 minutes or less), and photos on my phone that I know my mother would love to see. So I looked at some file sharing apps. Despite billions of smartphones holding photos, videos and music we've yet to see a simple and consistent way to cast media to other devices, especially smart TV's. Audiences are usually constrained to sharing between same brand devices, like a Samsung phone and a Samsung television.

"My mother needs to be able to access these files quickly and easily. Asking her to plug in cables, convert files and somehow navigate a maze of menus to get her phone to talk to her TV is never going to happen.

"Enter Playora, which promises to be a file sharing application with a difference. It's not confines to specific technology. It crosses all the boundaries of brands and can connect, via the internet, to virtually all devices anywhere in the world. It's technology and platform agnostic.

"At the simplest level it means I can do the techy part, while she watches her family take on the outside world on her television. I could record my 12 year old playing football in my iPhone, and within minutes of the match finishing, my mother could be watching it on her television with her cup of tea.

"Loneliness or social isolation is a bigger problem than simply an emotional experience. Research shows that social isolation is harmful to our health: lacking social connections is a comparable risk factor for early death as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and is worse for us than well-known risk factors such as obesity and physical inactivity.

"So the benefits of an application like Playora could reduce isolation by taking the world to our ageing parents to tackle their increasing sense of isolation and the impact on health and well being that it has."

About Playora

Founded by BAFTA winning serial technical entrepreneur Matt Spall, Playora is the trading name of invisiplay Limited. The company was fomed with the specific purpose of making it easier to use, so called. 'Smart' technology for entertainment by people left behind by the digital divide.

For more information go to: www.playora.com

For more information on the Campaign to End Loneliness go to: www.campaigntoendloneliness.org


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