Tu-ka’s new cell phone for the elderly

The Japanese cell phone provider Tu-ka has just announced an interesting new phone, designed by Kyocera, with the unique distinguishing feature of being as featureless as possible.

Looking at his phone you may be wondering where the LCD screen and half the controls are. You may be wondering if I haven’t been lying all along about being able to read Japanese, completely screwed up and accidentally linked to a photo of, not a cell phone, but a wireless phone for indoor use. In fact, this is exactly the point.

This phone is specifically designed for elderly people who want to keep in touch with their family more easily or need one for emergencies (a particular concern for old people living alone) but may too confused by even the most basic of modern cell phones, or lack the clarity of vision needed to read the screen or the manual dexterity needed to press such small buttons.

The tagline reads
A cell phone so simple it doesn’t need any explanation. A cell phone specifically designed for talking.

As this diagram explains, the “method of use is almost identical to that of a home phone.”

In all, they list only four features.

  • Large buttons: Easy to see, easy to press
  • Powerful speaker so your partner’s voice is more easily heard
  • A bumpy easy-grip surface
  • A battery so large that you only need to charge it once a month

That last claim is the only one that would really stand out as a feature on normal phone. The claimed talk time of about 4 hours doesn’t seem particularly exceptional, but the 840 hours (about 35 days) of standby time is just amazing! I wonder if it actually manages that through battery size, or by leaving out the power-sucking color screens, processors, and internet capable digital transceiver found in typical cell phones.

It turns out that this isn’t actually brand new, but it’s interesting to point out how product designers in Japan are really starting to cater more towards the elderly, which is soon to be, if not already, the fastest growing segment of the population.

Thanks to Joe for the heads up.