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Project Details

An elderly couple speaking to their grandchild through a SpeakSet set-top box

SpeakSet

Pared-down Skype for the over-65s

By MKS Solutions

Project URL: speakset.com
Project Twitter: @speaksetUK

  • Community Engagement
  • Health
  • Social Exclusion
  • Audiovisual
  • Internet

70% of the UK's health and social care budget is spent on people with long term conditions, most of whom are over 65. Social isolation is also at epidemic levels among this group, with more than three million older people going more than a week without seeing a friend or family member – and more than a million going more than a month. Lack of social contact has been found to be as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day – exacerbating conditions including Alzheimer’s, dementia and diabetes. Again, this increases the need for costly and often inefficient care from the state.

SpeakSet is the connection between these people and their doctors, nurses, carers and family. SpeakSet provides an easy-to-use video-calling device designed for older generations who very badly need tools to tackle social isolation and access care services but continue to struggle with computers.

SpeakSet’s set-top box plugs into any TV, to provide a video calling service controlled by a simple remote. Contacts and settings are pre-loaded, and can be updated remotely.  There’s no software to download, making it simple for the over-65s, who are otherwise less likely to be online than the rest of the UK population, to use the web to stay in touch with friends and healthcare professionals.

The SpeakSet set-top box and user-interface were developed following user-feedback with over-65 year olds, and extensive trials with care providers all over the UK. Providing this communication link means medical professionals can deliver remote health consultations in the home, making calls by logging into the SpeakSet system via their standard web browser.

Founder Matt Simmonds spent a year visiting care homes to develop the prototypes. He says his ambition for the programme, which was one of the first set of winner’s of Nominet Trust’s Social Tech Social Change funding prize, is for it to be the communications network for all care services.

Image courtesy of SpeakSet

Last updated: 11th of June, 2014

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