Net Appliance Targets Seniors

If you've ever struggled to help get an elderly parent online, you know there's a market for Sagevision, a combination Internet appliance and service geared toward seniors.

Pricing will be announced upon its release later this year from Sageport, which is also behind the online community for seniors.

The heart of Sagevision is Intel's Internet appliance, the Dot.Station.

Marketed exclusively to service providers, the Dot.Station is designed for simplicity. According to Sageport President Brian Deutsch, you simply "plug it into the wall and telephone, turn it on, and it goes right to the Net."This isn't to say the Dot.Station doesn't promise some versatility. It comes with both a modem and cable/Digital Subscriber Line capabilities. It can download and accept plug-ins. And the vendor (in this case Sageport) can update the Dot.Station's software via your Internet connection.

New Interfaces for Aged Users

Sageport plans to alter the Dot.Station significantly to create Sagevision.

Even the keyboard is different, with an integrated trackball rather than Intel's touch pad, and a dedicated scroll wheel (according to Sageport, touch pads and mouse scrolling are difficult for many seniors). The keys will be the same size as on a standard keyboard, but the letters will be larger. There will be no Ctrl or Alt, but unique, colored function keys. Sageport also adds what it calls "sponsor keys" designed to take you directly to select company Web sites. That's right--Sageport hopes to sell advertising space on your keyboard.

Turn on the Sagevision and things will look different as well. The special, Mozilla-based browser is designed for simplicity, with no command bar. Fonts will be larger, and the colors will be those that aging eyes can easily track.

The default home page for that browser will be the portal. This Web site is in full swing already and is worth checking out even if you don't buy the Sagevision service.

Who's Your Parents' ISP?

That service will include a modified Dot.Station and Internet access. Sageport has not announced the identity of the Internet service provider, but that too will be available upon release of the product.

Several pricing options will probably be available, including a flat monthly fee for both the hardware and the service, and "gift pricing" where one check gets you the box and one or two years of access.

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