This simple touchscreen device might be grandpa’s next computer — or ours

Do your parents or grandparents really need a full-blown computer? One startup thinks the answer might be no.

Seattle-based Pure Devices has launched a Kickstarter campaign in support of a new tabletop touchscreen device that streams data and applications from the cloud to a simplified user interface.

The company is hoping that the device, which allows users to email, shop, access subscriptions, ebooks, movies, TV and more, will especially appeal to the senior market, who may not be as comfortable operating today’s computers.

In fact, it was one such frustrating device that inspired Pure Devices’ founder Eugene Luskin to create the prototype. After trying to help his grandmother figure out her remote over the phone, Luskin says that he “marched over to her house and very simply cut a paper template and affixed it to her remote leaving holes for three buttons — On/Off, Volume, and Change Channel — the only buttons she really needed.”

I hear you, Eugene. I still have no idea what half the crap on my Xfinity remote does.

That said, even though the Pure Device is marketed with seniors in mind, it sure looks appealing to the rest of us tired of too many buttons. I believe the term they use in their Kickstarter campaign video is that the experience should be “liberating.”

Pure Devices’ goal is to raise $150,000 by Sept. 19, so far hitting nearly $3,500. For backers, discounts are offered on the Pure Device, and the cloud services subscription fee will be waived over the lifetime of the device.

And the company has already secured its production facilities in the United States. So, these Pure Devices will proudly say “Made in the U.S.A.”

Here’s their video to show you how it all works:

 

  • Zazzymcgrazz

    What if someone made a lightweight touchscreen tablet with a clean, simple UI, allowing users to video chat, consume emails, music and video from the cloud, and if it were broken, walk over to a local store, perhaps consult with a genius, and seamlessly replace it? Wouldnt that be magical?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=849020400 Archis Gore

      Fair disclosure: I am involved with the team trying to build this.

      I appreciate your feedback Zazzymcgrazz. It’s a question we’ve asked ourselves quite a few times, but we never did find a good way to get our parents connected with us. There is indeed a possibility that we were doing it wrong. Then again, we did meet a lot of people telling us they are intimidated by even the great tablets which prompted us to consider the option of building an appliance on our own.

      We’re trying to address these questions on the FAQ section of the kickstarter homepage.

      Thank you for leaving a comment.

    • LauraP77

      Exactly. I gave my parents an iPad 2 years ago, selected few apps for them and now they happily see the grandson photos, skype with their grandson browse the internet and do online banking.. things they were intimidated by when facing a PC. An Android tablet would do the trick too I guess and if the issue is some sort of parental control (I would say Grandparental control) then writing a smart app as a layer on top of iOS or Android or Windows 8 would do the trick. Hardware is a messy biz and the sub $100 tablet should be arriving soon on the android platform. By all means, good luck with this but it is a solution in search of a problem and if the problem indeed exist, then software and elegant UX would do the trick

      • EL

        It is kind of the same argument as people had on the day iPad was released – an absolute majority didn’t see any market for the large iPhone (with no phone functionality) trying to compete (as many thought) with laptops. The reality is – to provide a really consistent solution you need to control full cycle of experience. It would be great to have an ideal device that we can just write the apps for, but after many years of experience dealing with computer-illiterate people who don’t have geeks helping them – we came to the conclusion of building everything ourselves. This is not because we like building hardware so much (I personally spent last 7 years managing HW manufacturing and, with all honesty, would avoid it if possible). We just know what millions of people are going through (and that’s not including those who cannot get online at all) and we have built, what we believe, a solution that can address it. Then there is also a price and form factor considerations, even if it’s secondary. The time will tell of course.

  • Savvy Senior

    Seems like a good idea. I volunteer with many elderly who do not use a computer. This would be helpful. Where is the keyboard? Is it on the screen like on the iPhone? Will it be Made in the USA or made elsewhere and assembled in the USA?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=849020400 Archis Gore

      Sorry about the delay in response… The screen will have a decent on-screen keyboard, and we’re going through some trouble to figure out what works. As you may note, we’re on kickstarter and haven’t TOTALLY finalized the story around peripherals.

      Our core chipset supports regular USB ports and we are going to expose a way to connect a limited set of peripherals, among which a keyboard will be included. Our primary scenario for peripherals is that of downloading/accessing pictures taken from digital cameras.

      We do however emphasize that we don’t want a lot of random peripherals to be connected – not for evil lockdown reasons, but mainly because device compatibility, drivers, etc. bring a complicated mess which we’re attempting to avoid with a fresh start.

      That being said, we welcome feedback and comments on our kickstarter page to help us refine these things, so please do feel free to visit us and comment.

      The device will be assembled in the US 100%. We’re figuring out logistics and costs of manufacturing a large part of the circuitry in the US too and are very optimistic at the moment – remember that we use the raspberry pi motherboard (www.raspberrypi.org) which is manufactured in Europe at the moment. The screen, I’m afraid, will be imported because that kind of manufacturing prowess is beyond our ability at the moment.

  • Leslie

    i wonder about text entry .. does the device support a software and/or hardware keyboard?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=849020400 Archis Gore

      Do check my reply to Savvy Senior below, but in short, the software DOES have a keyboard, and a rather large, comfortable one with big buttons. A physical keyboard is easily supported technically but we have not completely locked down the story on that. Feedback from people like you is very valuable to us. Thanks.