Article  |  Work

Welcome to the FamilyLink Network!

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We’re so very proud and excited to announce that our project with partners iKare has launched! An idea that was more than a year in the making, the FamilyLink connects families and friends to their loved ones through a device that shares photos, videos chats, messages, but more importantly provide an ease of mind.

The iKare Story

Maybe there’s someone in your life that you’d like to be in touch with, but more importantly, you wish there were a better way to check-in and make sure they are okay. These days, some of us live miles, if not countries, away from friends and family who live on their own. And as we all age, the fear that something will happen increases. Setting up daily calls just to check-in can be difficult and stopping-in could be impossible. Enter iKare and the FamilyLink device.

Their idea started out with a scenario not unlike the above:

  • A family who lived far away from their…
  • aging mother, relied heavily on…
  • coordinating phone calls as the only way to “check-in” to make sure she was okay, but with a…
  • new baby on the way, they wanted the ability to share more photos and videos, but…
  • she couldn’t get comfortable with using a desktop computer.

To remedy this, iKare set up an early prototype for a simplified computer device that would provide “Grandma” with a scaled-down and simple interface to send and receive messages from her friends and family. Something she could easily use, without the complications of a desktop. Not only could she send and receive messages, she could listen to music online, send and receive a video message or photo attachment, read the news, and when the device was idle, it transformed into a photo slideshow of her grandchildren.

But, what about checking-in? The most important feature wasn’t what the device did for her, it was the ease-of-mind it built for the family. With the device they developed a series of monitoring attachments that would track movement throughout her house. Not meant to be imposing or interfere; the intention was to find a balance between exposing inactivity while letting her get on with her daily life. More clearly, it wasn’t the activity that the device monitored; it was the absence of activity that was monitored and would trigger an alert to be sent to the family .

Discovery Day

It was a good start for a prototype, but they wanted to provide this same service to those with a similar need. This is where we came in. Our team was tasked with designing and developing an online subscription service that would allow someone to set up and manage a device – be it for their own parent, grandparent, anyone – remotely. We broke ground in late 2010 with a discovery workshop in which we established the project vision.

This included:

  • purchasing a device
  • managing the devices settings
  • managing an address book of family/friends
  • sending and receiving messages and video conversations with the device
  • monitoring activity graphs/charts
  • managing notification schedule and settings

Design, Develop, Deploy and Dialogue: Our iterative process

Following the discovery day, our team set out to tackle each of the project goals. Starting out first with interaction design, we collaborated with the iKare team to identify each of the main objectives of the application. What sort of design could we create to make the process of buying and creating a network easier for the user and build confidence in the product? Who is the user that would be using this and what sort of elements could give helpful cues and add value to the application? For each task we asked these and more, and iterated through wireframes to find the right fit.

We even testing a few features to get a better understanding of the user experience.

Once we had the design set, our development team iterated through the tasks to get the application up and running.

The Finished Piece

With the FamilyLink application deployed, we hope that new users find the application easy to use and enjoy all of the tools that the app has to offer, like connecting to others in the network or the ease-of-mind that comes with the monitoring system.

Like all project launches, we’ll look towards additional features and small improvements as we continue to watch how the market and business reacts. So stay tuned, and if you have someone in your life that you’d like to link to, check it out: familylink.net

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