telly phone up - rec.jpg

Copy of Telly



How do we help older people stay in touch?


Summary: Younger people predominantly text now. Many elderly people find texting culturally and technologically intimidating. A huge opportunity for connection between younger people and the elderly is being lost. How do we design a simple interface for the elderly to text with their younger loved ones?  Telly is a tabletop device that allows older people to send text messages using their voice. We wanted to make the design as welcoming and inclusive as possible so we modeled it after old telephones to present a form and interaction elderly people will be familiar with. Touch based interaction is kept to a minimum and interaction primarily focuses around lifting the phone off of the receiver and hanging it up. In place of the infrequent and laborious coordination of a phone call to an elderly loved on, Telly will allow staying in touch as simple as a quick text message.

Scope: 2 Weeks

Role: Concept Development, UX Design, Video

Collaborators: Janel Wong

Categories: Accessibility




Telly was selected as a finalist in the Student Design Challenge at the Interaction17 conference held in New York City in February 2017.



Younger people predominantly text now and older people frequently have trouble texting. Making texting accessible to older people is a huge opportunity to increase connection between younger people and the elderly.

Telly began with our personal experiences trying to communicate with older loved ones. My teammate Janel's family is in Hong Kong and the easiest way for her to communicate with them is through texting and email. Coordinating a telephone call with her Grandmother can be time consuming and difficult. Even for me, with my Grandmother only a few hours away, calling is difficult. In large part because it is no longer my habit to communicate with people on the phone. Our generation very rarely calls each other and almost always texts.

Texting opens up a new level of ease to communication. One no longer has to plan and allot a specific amount of time for a phone call, you can constantly and easily be in touch with those that are important to you. The power of a text message from someone you love should not be underestimated. The fact that the majority of elderly people are unable to text is such a lost opportunity for meaningful connection. We began thinking there must be a way to make texting more accessible to the elderly.




We designed the form of the device to resemble a tabletop phone the elderly are familiar with and we designed interactions as much as possible around picking up and hanging up the receiver.

At the forefront of our mind when designing Telly was accessibility and simplicity. When people our age look at an Apple device they think simplicity and ease of use, but we realized the buttonless, sleek design of contemporary technology reads differently to the elderly. The affordances of the device are unclear to them. We wanted to design a form nostalgically that was modeled after devices they were familiar with. Touch screen interactions are relatively recent so we wanted to design so the device did not rely on them.

The communication device the elderly are most familiar with is the table top phone and the primary interaction with that device is lifting the headset off the receiver and hanging it up, so we wanted to build as much as possible around this interaction. We iterated several times on the user flow.


IxDA Student Design Challenge


Janel and I will be work shopping and presenting Telly at the Student Design Challenge at the upcoming Interaction17 conference.

Telly was selected as a finalist in the upcoming Student Design Challenge at the Interaction17 conference this February. Janel and I are looking forward to iterating further on the design.