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Verizon Unveils Devices for Seniors

New health care-focused gadgets will run on the company's 4G network

Putting Verizon outlets to the test

Verizon sells its phones and plans through a variety of outlets in addition to its online store and its company-owned stores. You can find Verizon’s phones at Walmart, Best Buy and Radio Shack, among others. You can also find them at “Verizon Wireless Zone” stores, which are a franchise chain, not owned by Verizon. To the untrained eye, it’s tough to tell these Wireless Zone stores apart from the Verizon company-owned stores, but there is a world of difference. Not too far from my home a Wireless Zone store is just a few hundred yards away from a Verizon corporate store. The Zone store had one sales clerk at work in a relatively modest space. I saw no fewer than eight people working in the Verizon store just down the block that was at least five times the size. But the differences don’t stop there. One of my long-standing frustrations with smartphones has been the small print under the icons on the home screen. I asked the sales clerk at the Zone store if there was any way to make the icons on an iPhone larger, and he had no idea. I drove down the street to the Verizon store and asked the same question. The sales clerk didn’t know, but he immediately turned the question over to a technician who drilled down into the iPhone settings and in short order showed me how to do a three-fingered tap to zoom in on the icons.

When we asked about some of Verizon’s full-featured phones with senior friendly features, both the Wireless Zone and Verizon store sales clerks pointed us to the Samsung Gusto II, which has large text, relatively big buttons and voice-enabled functions that could be a big help to those with less-than-perfect eyesight. Verizon says it offers training to its third party sellers, but it’s not mandatory.

Looking to the future

Praveen Atreya of Verizon’s LTE Innovation Center says we can expect to see even more services and devices linked to the 4G network. He points to the smart grid, and how monitors could detect changes in the use of electrical appliances by seniors, a potential early warning sign that something in a senior’s behavior pattern has changed. Or we may see devices tied to public transit that could provide information on whether a train is running late. All of this sounds wonderful, but while Verizon’s goal is to continue to rule the air, whether in Braille or large type or through voice recognition, my goal is just to figure out my Verizon bill.

Also of interest: "No Call" law covers cellphones.

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Click looks at the devices that may face extinction because of the multi-purpose gadget in your pocket - the smartphone.
 

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