Elderly people are often intimidated, or more likely annoyed, by much of modern technology, even though it can help them stay in touch with friends, family and caregivers.
The best gadget for an older person may be a tablet, because it is easier to handle than a laptop. The Claris Companion, a new tablet, takes that idea a step further, because it is monitored and configured by a caregiver or family member who decides how many features the tablet will have, putting on only those that are needed. The settings can be changed remotely from the caregiver's computer at any time.
When not in use, the tablet functions as a digital picture frame, showing a slide show of photos. The images are loaded by the person who configures the tablet. A hitch is that photos need to be loaded one at a time; the company says an upgrade is coming soon.
Below the pictures are large buttons for the tablet's features, like a "call me" button that sends an e-mail to a designated person, one to read and write e-mail, one for an exercise routine and one for an events calendar.
The device can also be programmed to beep with reminders to take medicine, and to have a daily check-in which fires off an automated e-mail to family.
At the heart of the Claris Companion is a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, but it is hidden in an wooden case of engineered bamboo to make it easier to handle (it also makes it look as if it belongs to a cartoon hillbilly). It sits on a hefty wooden charger stand.
There are two models and several pricing plans. They begin at $550 for at Wi-Fi only model, with a monthly subscription fee of $40. By the end of July, a 4G model that works over the mobile phone network will be $650 and $50 a month for unlimited service, Claris said.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.