In the day and age where mobile technology advances at a blinding speed, it becomes harder for older generations to keep up with its ever-changing cycle. Fujitsu plans to accommodate that by releasing a smartphone designed for the elderly, and replacing the rotary dialer with easy to use mobile technology. We have learned last year that Fujitsu planned on entering the global smartphone market using Android; this year, we are finally seeing the results.
With Europe being the first region to receive the initial launch, Fujitsu is expanding outside its borders to promote Japanese technology all around the world. France is set to be the first country to receive this device, with Orange being the delivering carrier, and surrounding regions are expected to follow. Pricing is currently unknown at this point.
The smartphone, dubbed Stylistic S01, is focused on seniors with diminished hearing or sight by using bigger icons, a modified touch-screen and augmented audio during calls. It's easy to press the wrong button on a non-hardware screen (even for those with smaller fingers), and because of that, the icons are enlarged to give more visual detail. On top of larger icons, the modified touch-screen requires you to press with a little more force in order to simulate the hardware buttons on a regular phone, leaving it less likely for the user to hit the wrong button and end up confused at what just happened.
While specs shouldn't be a huge concern to seniors, we should all be able to agree that a slow phone does not make for a good experience, so according to Fujitsu's press release (shown below), here is what this smartphone has to offer:
- Dimensions: 130 x 64 x 10.9 mm
- Display: 4-inch WVGA (800—480) touchscreen with unique tactile feedback technology
- Camera: back 8.1 MP; front: 0.3 MP
- Connectivity: GSM/GPRS/EDGE/UMTS/HSPA, Wi-Fi/Bluetooth, GPS
- Memory: 4 GB + microSD
- OS version: Android Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0
- Processor: Qualcomm MSM8255 1.4 GHz
- Battery: 1800 mAh
- Water- and dust-resistant (IPX5/8, IP5X)
As seen from the pictures, the display produces a Fibonacci spiral interface design that makes it easier for the human to relate to the content, and larger icons allows one to painlessly keep track of what is going on in the screen.
Innovations include audio enhancements during calls by using your age as a factor to make adjustments, which in turn makes it easier for the user to hear what the other person is saying. If the person on the other line has a tendency to talk faster than the user can think, a voice modifying feature asserts that the speech is slowed down to more comprehensible levels without effecting pitch or tone, or delaying the pace of the conversation. How that feature will pan out is beyond me, but if they pull it off, then they might have something there for more room to grow (think about how cool it would be for a phone to translate different languages over phone calls). Like many emergency paging systems that are in place already, there is one that will alert the emergency number in case of a situation such as a fall, or a burglar.
A couple of these innovations are not quite as new, as they have been incorporated into other forms of technology. Features such as larger text or icons, and audio voices reading words aloud are even found in other Android devices. In contrast, the features in other smartphones require a good amount of setup, which could cause issues due to the fact that some older folks may feel like a genius just by learning which button turns the phone on. That would effectively change "Plug and Play" into "Plug and Pray" for most, and thus the demand for a simplified version to accommodate these problems has been addressed. This device is expected to be available on display at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2013.
The press release from Fujitsu about this device is shown below:
Fujitsu and Orange Partner to Deliver Smartphones to the Rapidly Growing Senior Market in Europe
Intuitive, feature-rich STYLISTIC S01 smartphone to debut June 2013 in France
Fujitsu Limited and France Telecom-Orange today announced a new partnership to offer mobile phones and services in Europe. The partnership marks Fujitsu's first extensive foray into the smartphone market outside Japan. The initial offering will be the STYLISTIC S01, a smartphone designed especially for senior users, and will be available through Orange in France in June 2013.
As the senior population in Europe continues to grow rapidly, smartphone usage in this demographic is expected to rise. With the release of the STYLISTIC S01, Fujitsu and Orange plan on offering users in this market segment an innovative smartphone that provides outstanding usability. The STYLISTIC S01 will include services like Orange Cineday and Orange et Moi, which are unique to Orange. Based around the human-centric technologies that Fujitsu has cultivated for over a decade, the STYLISTIC S01 also offers a variety of original, convenient functions designed to reduce barriers to smartphone adoption by maximizing ease of use.
One of these barriers is conventional touchscreens, which do not offer the tactile sensation of pressing a physical button. The STYLISTIC S01, however, employs a unique screen technology that requires users to apply the same level of pressure to on-screen icons as they would to buttons on a keypad. This helps users avoid inadvertent touches, preventing unintended operations and improving input accuracy. Furthermore, the intuitive graphic user interface features extra-large icons and a simplified layout to ensure straightforward navigation for easier operation. The STYLISTIC S01 is also equipped with a loud personal security alarm that can be used to alert people in the surrounding area in emergency situations.
The handset incorporates audio technology that optimizes the frequency range based on a user's age, making it easier to hear the voice of the person on the other end of the call. Another user-friendly audio function slows down the speech of callers who speak rapidly without lowering the pitch of their voice or changing the length of the conversation. These and other innovative features are currently in use in the Fujitsu Raku-Raku Phone series for seniors, which has been offered by NTT DOCOMO since 2001 in Japan where it has sold over 20 million units.
"The senior customers within our customer base are just as hungry for smartphone technology and mobile internet services as anyone else. We are thrilled to be working together with Fujitsu to leverage our combined strengths to provide products for an emerging smartphone market segment in Europe," said Yves Maitre, Senior Vice President of Device & Mobile Multimedia, France Telecom-Orange.
"As Fujitsu's first extensive entry into the smartphone market outside Japan, we are delighted that Orange - a company that holds a strong position in the European market - will be offering our phone, which features Fujitsu-exclusive human-centric technologies," said Nobuo Otani, Corporate Senior Vice President, Fujitsu Limited. "We are committed to the success of this partnership as we strive to expand our smartphone business overseas, while advancing the promotion of Japanese technology worldwide."
The STYLISTIC S01 will be on display at the Fujitsu stand (Hall 5 Stand 5E120) and can also be viewed upon request at the Orange stand (Hall 5 Stand 5H110) during Mobile World Congress 2013, to be held in Barcelona, Spain starting February 25, 2013.