New wallet makes using cards easier

ID cards, credit cards, loyalty cards, life seems to be filled with cards that need to be dug out of purses and wallets, which as fingers get older and joints get stiffer becomes increasingly painful. There’s currently a Kickstarter campaign to fund a new type of wallet that might make using all those cards easier.

Designed by two brothers, the “Glider” is a hard-shelled wallet that resembles an iPhone in both form and function. It’s small, extremely thin and made from a glossy polycarbonate, with a sliding bar in its center. Moving the bar makes a card emerge just far enough to be swiped. Thus, if there’s a card you need to use frequently, say to swipe at the gas pump or supermarket, all you need to do is slide the bar, rather than remove and replace the card. If you need to use a full card, pressing a button makes it emerge.

For more information on how it works, see the video on Kickstarter.

For more information on how it works, see the video on Kickstarter.

The Glider is not yet available because it is still raising funds on Kickstarter. If you want one, you have to pledge that you will buy at least one (there are various tiers of pledges available). If the fund-raising goal is met, you will receive one (or more) and be on the hook for your pledge. If it is not met, you will owe nothing, but alas, you will not get a Glider either.

Caveat: While the design is both clever and practical, we suggest you watch the video to see if either the slider bar or button might be too small for your hands. The wallet in the video is a prototype, so we can’t judge how much pressure it will take to work the slider.


A “smart” approach to budgeting?

For many seniors, retirement and/or unexpected medical expenses mean much stricter budgeting than ever before. The Cash Smartwatch promises to help you keep on track—we only hope it can save you enough to make up for its $140 price.

Essentially, it’s a spreadsheet packed into a watch. You put in what you’re spending throughout the day and it keeps a running tally of whether you’re meeting—or alas exceeding—your budget goals.

It reinforces your habits with messages that range from upbeat cheers (“Hell yeah, who’s a budgeting superstar”) or no-punches-pulled nags (“Take the damn bus”). Online, it syncs with a website full of budget planning tools and financial advice; some of which, unfortunately, is blithely impractical, despite the watch being the creation of financial writer Nicole Lapin.

We haven’t tested the Cash Smartwatch, so we can only say that for those of you already good at budgeting, it may be overkill. You’re likely already achieving what it promises with a pad of paper and a four-dollar pocket calculator. Of course, if you’re thinking of spending $140 on a smartwatch, you’re probably exactly the sort of person who needs this.

All of that said, it could make an ideal, albeit pricey, graduation gift for a child or grandchild new to the complexities of personal finances.


Far out tech proves practical for surgeons

With hip replacements becoming nearly as common as hair dye among seniors, we thought you might be interested in the very latest in orthopedic surgical training. It’s so far out, we’re going to have to go with the picture’s-worth-a-thousand-words cliché, and urge you to watch the video. In it, we see young French surgeons learning their craft through a 3D video recorded by their mentors. The advantage is this is the only way the apprentice surgeons can actually see the surgery from the lead surgeon’s point-of-view directly, and not as observers from the side.

As explained by The Digital Health Post, the young doctors are viewing the surgeries through the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset that has been making hard-core geeks swoon like tween girls at this year’s equivalents of Frank Sinatra and Paul McCartney. The surgeries were filmed with the Go Pro Dual Hero system, which combines two of the popular action photography cameras into one unit that can create 3D stereoscopic still and video images. For those of you into photography, that should move to the top of your wish-list.


Discount on Simple Tech for finding items in your car

We like this because it’s such a simple, obvious solution: The best way to find something is not to lose it in the first place!

Groupon is currently running a promotion on the “Drop Stop Car Seat Wedge.” It’s a classic why-didn’t-I-think-of-that: A hunk of neoprene that fits between your car seats and your console, that evil spot that seems to suck in loose change, receipts, pens, and of course (sigh) the keys. Since trying to dig them all out is not fun with arthritis, lower back pain and other annoyances of aging, it just might be worth it to treat yourself or someone you love.

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 8.51.11 PMNow at $16.99 for two (full price: $27.94) on Groupon.




You’re never too old to rock ‘n’ roll

We realize this one may stretch the definition of “assistive technology for seniors,” but with Mick Jagger now a great-grandfather, we’re going for it. If you’re still harboring fantasies of fronting a rock band—or if you already play guitar and want to improve your skills—read on.

We were recently introduced to Rocksmith 2014, the second edition of a computer game/learning software that helps both novice and experienced guitar players increase their playing speed, accuracy, and dexterity.

Yeah, sounds sort of like Guitar Hero, except instead of a guitar-shaped controller, you plug in your own, real electric guitar. The software has a library of licensed songs that Boomers will appreciate, including Mick’s own Paint It Black, and it challenges you to hit the right note, then notes, as they come at you, faster and faster.

It also includes step-by-step introductory videos that start with topics as basic as how to hold a guitar while standing. Our favorites are the arcade-style games, which turn tedious, repetitive technique drills into adrenaline rush competitions. They’re probably the single greatest boon to practicing outside of groupies and multi-million dollar label deals.

Beyond that, as novices who are still trying to figure out how to tighten a strap, we’re not really qualified to review it, so if you’re an experienced musician, we recommend this review which speaks more knowledgeably of what challenges and improvements you can expect. We can say with confidence that if you’re a guitar teacher, the games just might get your students to live up to their promises to practice.

A video review from Gamespot:



AARP’s RealPad–Yes? No? Maybe?

This afternoon at AARP’s Ideas@50+ conference in San Diego, we were able to test AARP’s just announced “RealPad” tablet, a low-cost tablet customized for technophobic seniors. By the time we got home, it was already being denounced by Internet commentators.

aarp-tablet-front-croppedHere’s the bad news they all pounced on: While it is cheaply priced at $189, if you shop around you can find a tablet with similar specs for the same or even less money.

Here’s the good news they all ignored: It comes with free 24/7 live operator tech support, which AARP promises us is provided by an American customer service company.

It has three other features that make it worth considering:

  • A clean and comprehensible interface with large icons.
  • Built-in video tutorials and easy-to-follow documentation. We did not see either, so we can’t verify this, but their claim is that they can get nearly anyone up and running just by watching the videos, which offer step-by-step instructions.
  • The “RealQuickFix” button that can diagnose and fix most tablet problems with just one fix. The tablet will also automatically scan and alert if untrusted software is present.

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A Senior Tech Hero

In an era when the Star Trek medical tricorder is well on its way to becoming a reality, we celebrate George Takei, the original Lt. Sulu. As shown in To Be Takei, a documentary on his life currently available in theaters and online, he has dedicated his life to activism. The 77-year-old’s causes include LGBT rights, preserving the memory of the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII, and showing the world that seniors can kick tech butt.

Along with having an active Twitter feed and Facebook page, Takei has been recording a series of videos for AARP on technology innovations called Takei’s Take. They play like brief news reports (most are between 2 to 6 minutes),  and are both informative and great fun. The next time a young salesperson in a computer store condescends to you, just say two words: George Takei!


Note: If you’re considering viewing To Be Takei with children, please be aware it includes illustrations drawn by some of Star Trek‘s, er, more imaginative fans, as well as Takei’s unfiltered reactions to his old captain, William Shatner.


Re-thinking fall prevention

The poisonous plants of the decorating world. Beautiful, but deadly.

Area Rugs, the poisonous plants of interior decoration. Like Oleander, beautiful but deadly.

We trust that you all know that if you’re concerned with fall prevention, you don’t want area rugs in your home. But even if, like Sleeping Beauty’s parents and spindles, you eliminate every area rug you can, the world is still full of curbs, ice and other risks, so your best defense is strengthening your own balance. To that end, Clive Pei, a professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at the  University of Illinois in Chicago, is making seniors fall.

The idea, as explained in this AP article with optional video, is a new take on balance-training: Instead of general muscle conditioning, it lets people practice catching themselves before a fall. Participants train on a mechanized version of an area rug: a moving walkway that is programmed to slide and cause falls. Because they are wearing safety harnesses, they never fall far enough to injure themselves, but the repeated falling motion lets them continuously reinforce the instinctive movements to stop a fall. The study, located in Chicago, is currently recruiting participants.

Of course, you could just buy a cane, but yeah, we know, makes ya look old. Well, if you fear such an accessory might make you seem less than fully virile, we found (oh Internet!) one made from, er, blush, “the reproductive organ of a bull.” For the ladies, bling it on!