"It started with my mother-in-law," said Thijs Suijten, a developer from the Netherlands. "She's sick, and unable to get out of bed."
Suijten was frustrated by the fact that, in order to share photos of his daughter with his mother-in-law, he had to print the photos out himself or bring an iPad to the older woman's bedside. His mother-in-law didn't know how to use a computer or tablet on her own, but he still wanted her to feel a part of his family's life. "I was just looking for an easy way to share photos with her, the same way I share photos on Facebook," he said.
That's how the idea for Famatic, an intentionally oversimplified tablet-slash-picture frame, was born. Formally unveiled on Kickstarter this week, the goal is to make photo-sharing with grandparents (or anyone technology averse, or who finds technology difficult to use) as easy and frictionless as possible. Using Famatic is simple: Photo creators beam photos directly from an app on their phones into the cloud, or sync Famatic with their Instagram or Facebook. Those photos automatically populate a picture frame kept in a living room for Grandma and Grandpa to enjoy. Then, they can select from a palette of pre-programmed comments to leave—no actual typing necessary—like "fun!" or "congratulations!"
It addresses a generational divide that often gets lost in the conversation about tech. On one hand, you have a younger generation so intuitively connected to technology that it's hard to imagine life without it. Whereas for some members of the elder generation, something as ubiquitous as Facebook might as well be written in a foreign language. The idea being that Famatic is to make your loved ones feel connected to your life—without overwhelming them with a steep learning curve.
Suijten says he was surprised when he surveyed the landscape two years ago, only to find that a bare-bones piece of hardware didn't exist. "When you turn it on, it just starts," said Suijten. "There's no app to launch. No difficult settings. It starts just like a digital photo frame."
If successfully funded—right now, the Kickstarter sits at $15,000 of its $75,000 fundraising goal—Famatic's big hope is to close that glaring rift, and bring the two generations closer using the very thing dividing them: Technology. If all proceeds according to plan, the frame will be available to purchase for around $200. "It was important that the device itself was easy as possible," added Suijten. "That's the beauty of this."