IBM and Apple today announced a plan to provide an iPad support service to seniors in Japan. The iPads will come loaded with a suite of “quality of life apps,” including those that allow seniors to coordinate medical reminders, shopping, doctor appointments, household maintenance, household cleaning, and transportation.
Japan Post, which provides postal service, banking services, and insurance services in that country, will distribute the iPads through a “watch over” service that it launched in 2013 in which, for a monthly fee, an employee will check on an elderly customer and report back to their relatives about their well-being. Starting in the second half of this year, that service will be upgraded for 1,000 customers with an iPad as part of a pilot program. Japan Post aims to offer it to all of its customers by next year, and the the goal is to have 4 million to 5 million customers for the service in Japan by 2020.
Apple CEO Tim Cook, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, and Japan Post CEO Taizo Nishimuro made the announcement in New York.
IBM created the apps as part of a partnership launched with Apple last year, which has also produced 22 apps in 11 industries.
The elder-care apps will be designed simply and with large buttons to make them easier for seniors to use and come with accessibility features like large type, closed caption, dictation, and voice over.
Japan Post will provide iPads free of charge, and customers of the service will pay a subscription fee.
Cook said that though the initiative is starting in Japan, a country in which the elderly make up 25% of the population, “we do believe that this is scalable around the globe.”