“It is about taking it back to the basics of being able to contact the people you need to be in contact with”

As mobile phones become increasingly complex, one company is bucking the trend and focusing on taking mobile communications back to basics for seniors, people suffering with disabilities or learning difficulties.

OwnFone, a British company, is the brainchild of young inventor Tom Sunderland who developed a simplified, easy to use mobile phone whilst studying at university and launched the world’s first printed mobile and partially printed braille phone in the summer of 2014.

OwnFone image

Originally created as an affordable phone to be used for specific occasions and events, such as festivals or travelling, users choose between four, eight or twelve contacts to register onto the phone and decide from words, images or 3D buttons such as braille or texture for the buttons. However following a Kickstarter campaign to gauge the general market demand, it quickly became apparent that there was also a significant need in the healthcare and independent living sector.

Sarah Watts, Sales Director of OwnFone, said: “Programmed numbers are held in our cloud rather than the phone, so you can’t delete a number or call someone by mistake. The only numbers you can dial are the ones that are registered via the buttons we’ve created so there is very little theft value.

To change phone numbers all you need to do is call the OwnFone Customer Service team and they will change them instantly.

“Importantly, we find people with dementia remember faces a lot longer than they remember names, so the image buttons are very useful. For seniors and those who find it difficult to dial numbers, all they have to do is press one button to communicate.

“The customers we are dealing with are 75-80 plus and we don’t want to confuse their lives anymore than need be. We try to make it easy for them to use our phones and be part of the OwnFone network.”

The London based company has partnered with some of the UK largest charities, such as Age UK and Stroke Association and has fully embraced new technology, using a 3D printer in their Islington office to print the custom phone accessories. Sarah added: “The credit card size of the phone is the same for all models, so the team looked at how they can make the phone easier to use for people with specific needs. For example, for people who find it difficult to hold certain shapes, so we can print a casing making easier to grip.

“It is about taking it back to the basics of being able to contact the people you need to be in contact with.”

To learn more about OwnFone visit HERE

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