The Estonian startup, Sentab, is a virtual social network that helps make technology a bridge – not a barrier – to connect the elderly with their family and friends.
The world’s population is getting older at an unprecedented rate. In the last 50 years, the number of people over the age of 65 has increased by roughly three and a half times.
For example, a research on loneliness and social isolation in the United Kingdom shows that 17% of older people are in contact with family, friends and neighbours less than once a week and 11% are in contact less than once a month. Over half (51%) of all people aged 75 and over live alone, while two fifths all older people (about 3.9 million in the UK) say the television is their main company.
Research also shows that loneliness and social isolation are harmful to our health: lacking social connections is a comparable risk factor for early death as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and is worse for us than well-known risk factors such as obesity and physical inactivity.
The Estonian startup, Sentab, is now aiming to address the loneliness issue by turning a regular television set into an interactive device that can be used to make voice and video calls to other enabled televisions, computers or smartphones. This enables families to use this platform to share and connect with older relatives.
While there are obviously many established and well-known means to connect between relatives and friends – the most common being a phone – Sentab is aiming for a bit of a “social mission” in order to attract users: they encourage elderly and their close ones to share, discover, learn and socialise.
“We support a socially-inclusive lifestyle by allowing our users to participate remotely in local events, enrol in educational courses and share their lives with society, to a degree that is not possible with today’s social networks,” the CEO of Sentab, Tarmo Pihl, said.
On the provision of the internet, the startup’s service can be accessed by TV, PC or a mobile app.
The company is planning to reach an audience of 50,000 users by the end of 2017.
The cover photo is illustrative (photos courtesy of Sentab)