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The UI Challenge and Tackling It – Mom Mode



Technology is about making life better. Better is a relative term. Technology in itself is a vague term. For instance, fire was the first invention. Wheel is another one of those things that we take for granted. However, fire and wheel changed the very manner of living of our ancestors. Fire made food better. Wheel made transportation faster. Fire and Wheel make things better. In essence, technology should make life better.

These days though, it’s all about app this and app that. I was exposed to technology at a very young age. I was fascinated with computers, the first time I played that ‘break the bricks’ MSDOS game when I was in my 6th standard. For years now, I have gone completely digital and can get things done in minutes, which would have taken hours otherwise. Take grocery shopping for instance. Except when I have company, I don’t like grocery shopping. To and from the store is like an hour. Actual shopping about 30 minutes. Then, at the counter and other unexpected things, another 30 minutes. We are looking at 120 minutes for a simple activity of getting supplies.

With online, I could get this done in 10 minutes. 5 minutes, if I am fast, which I usually am.

That is why, as a tech guy, it hurts me when my own mother cannot make the most of these facilities. Two weeks ago, I had a discussion with my mom. I told her that, as a gift, I could get her a nice Samsung Tablet or an iPad. I told her that she could get a lot of everyday things that she does – like take an Uber or Ola to the doctors or meeting friends, shop for groceries, listen to the radio and watch television. As of now, she uses me as a proxy for all the above online stuff. I wanted to make her independent of me, in case I am not around.

At first, she was all up for that idea, but then, she gradually withdrew. Eventually, she said that there is no possible way she could figure out how to use all these facilities. I know my mom, and she is not the ‘I don’t want to change with the times’ person. She taught everything I knew and I know she is the one person who supported me during my engineering, MBA and then when I decided to go all independent consultant on my career. The issue was not her, but the gadget itself. I realized that the apps, be it Uber or Ola or Skype or Big Basket are all designed for the ‘internet enabled’. They are not designed with folks like my mom in mind.

There could be many reasons for this. However, reasons are not how technology works. Or innovation. People don’t innovate because there is a reason to do it. At least for me, technology is about making life better. My mother’s life is already better because her children are internet equipped and are providing her with most modern amenities. However, she still has to rely on me. It’s like she is watching a movie, but instead of the reading the subtitles, she needs me to read it for her, and only then she can enjoy. This is the current system, and it’s good. It can be better though.

That is where I decided that at least my apps, starting with Project TD, will have, what I would like to call, ‘the mom mode’. I don’t know how it will work or how it will look. What I do know is this much. I will do everything I can, to make sure that my apps can be used by my mom, and moms who are in similar scenarios.

I will update this post, a few months from now, if I actually do this.

You can get more details about Project TD, right here.

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