Category Archives: Tech, Tools, Toys

UofM Student Research on 3D Everything (Except Printing)

#mlibres Students on #3d

Last week there was another of the wonderful Emergent Research Series of lectures sponsored by the University of Michigan Libraries Research Unit (2014 archive, 2013 archive).

Main topics covered were spatial tracking, 3d virtual reality, optical motion capture, holography, optical tracking, acoustic motion tracking. During the Q&A, a major diversion (at least for me) was “Sim-sickness”, in which 3d immersive virtual reality (think of Oculus Rift & Google Cardboard) make folk nauseous, some to the point of actually tossing their cookies. There are videos in Youtube. I don’t need to find them for you. Fun topics mentioned included virtual augmented reality, Hololens, holography for teaching anatomy, biomechanics, cultural preservation, robotics, aerospace engineering, body slicing with the Kinect, body tracking, and DIY arduino acoustic sensors and automated echolocation. There were lots of tips and tricks, what works and what doesn’t. Many interesting links in the Storify below.

DARPA: Biology IS Technology, Biology is INFORMATION Technology #DARPAbit

150225-N-CJ559-024

This is possibly the coolest (or scariest) thing I’ve seen since I become an Emerging Technologies Librarian. I wanted to blog about it a WEEK ago (which is when I made the Storify, over the weekend because I was so geeked I couldn’t wait). The reason I didn’t blog it then was because our library is moving into our renovated digs TODAY and packing took precedence. Somehow that delay just makes this even more delicious. You MUST see this!

DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) is the branch of the United States government most directly and publicly associated with emerging technologies. You better bet that I pay attention to what they’re doing. I try to peek at the DARPA budget, go every so often and poke around on their site, and keep my antennae tuned for mentions of DARPA in the news. They are in the news basically all the time, so I can’t pay TOO much attention, and since in recent years they have been largely focused on robotics (a.k.a. the famous DARPA Robotics Challenge) and engineering, and I am focused on healthcare emerging tech, maybe I haven’t visited as often as I might if it was just for fun. That has changed, because DARPA is now officially into the idea of biology as technology. Check out their recent conferences on this topic: Biology is Technology!

“DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office (BTO) is bringing together leading-edge technologists, start-ups, industry, and academic researchers to look at how advances in engineering and information sciences can be used to drive biology for technological advantage.”

Oh, my, yes. Now, THIS is right on target for what I want to know about in my job. And I bet there are all kinds of grants coming around and possible partnerships that our faculty will want to explore. Here are just a few of the bits the news media picked up from these conferences: targeted antibody development and THoR (Technologies for Host Resilience); brain-computer interfaces; cortical modems & optogenetics; engineered biology and GMOs more broadly; exoskeletons; memory technologies; open data and open source; prosthetics; terraforming Mars with GMOs (and there was a LOT on this!).

Craig Venter on headless humans and predicting your exact face from your DNA

There are some topics that interested me that the news hasn’t seemed to talk about yet, at least not prominently. Aging and immortality. Biocomplexity and Crohn’s disease. Cancer. Innovative research methodologies. Microbiomics. Transplantation and organ farming. Future of scholarship. Oh, and there is SO much more. It was livestreamed, but I couldn’t free up the time to watch it, so I am trying to work through the videos now. Here, join me.

DARPAtv: Biology Is Technology (San Francisco, February 2015) https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL6wMum5UsYvZnisi5VjUUjhpXoIMTSCwx

Arati Prabhakar – Director, DARPA
Fireside Chat: Sue Siegel CEO GE Ventures
Geoff Ling – Director, BTO: Fomenting Technological Revolution
Phillip Alvelda – Program Manager: Beyond Prosthetics
Dan Wattendorf – Program Manager: Outpacing Infectious Disease
Jack Newman, Amyris
Alicia Jackson – Deputy Director, BTO: Programming the Living World
Fireside Chat: George Church interviewed by George Dyson
Justin Sanchez – Program Manager: Brain-Machine Symbiosis
Matt Hepburn – Program Manager: It’s the Host not the Pathogen
Stephen Friend – Sage Bionetworks
Barry Pallotta- Program Manager: A Wild Ride
Doug Weber – Program Manager: Enabling the Body to Heal Itself
Justin Gallivan – Program Manager: Embracing Biological Complexity
Keynote Craig Venter – Founder and CEO, HLI, JCVI and SGI
Keynote Saul Griffith – Otherlab
Karl Deisseroth, Stanford University
Will Old, University of Colorado at Boulder
Michel Maharbiz, University of California, Berkeley
Eddie Chang, University of California, San Francisco
Adam Abate, University of California, Berkeley
Scott Ulrey: Doing Business With DARPA

DARPAtv: Biology is Technology (New York City) https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL6wMum5UsYva5aoxvLejhB9eirt0TVD-K

Alicia Jackson – Deputy Director, BTO: Programming the Living World
Welcome to DARPA BiT from Dr. Steve Walker, Deputy Director of DARPA
Dr. Geoff Ling: Fomenting Technological Revolution, DARPA BiT
Martine Rothblatt: Keynote at DARPA BiT
Dr. Phillip Alvelda: The Future of Neural Interface, DARPA BiT
Dr. Alicia Jackson: Programming the Living World, DARPA BiT
Jack Newman: Keynote at DARPA BiT
Zach Serber: Keynote at DARPA BiT
Dr. Elizabeth Strychalski: Biocomplexity, DARPA BiT
COL Matt Hepburn: It’s the Host Not the Pathogen, DARPA BiT
Dr. Doug Weber: Neurobiology as Technology, DARPA BiT
Kevin Tracey: Keynote at DARPA BiT
Dr. Justin Sanchez: Brain-Machine Symbiosis, DARPA BiT
MAJ Chris Orlowski: Optimizing Human Performance, DARPA BiT
COL Dan Wattendorf: Rapid Health Protection for the Population, DARPA BiT
Dr. Harvey Lodish: Keynote at DARPA BiT
Dr. Justin Gallivan: Building with Biology, DARPA BiT
Dr. Barry Pallotta: A Wild Ride, DARPA BiT
Dr. Geoff Ling: Day 1 Closing Remarks, DARPA BiT
Dr. Geoff Ling: DARPA BiT Day Two Introduction
Dr. Stephen Friend: Sage Bionetworks – DARPA BiT Keynote Speaker
Dr. Paul Cohen: DARPA Program Manager, DARPA BiT Keynote Speaker
Dr. Joel Dudley: Mount Sinai School of Medicine – DARPA BiT Keynote Speaker
Dr. Peter Sorger: Harvard Medical School – DARPA BiT Keynote Speaker
John Sculley: Former CEO of Apple and Pepsi-Cola – DARPA BiT Keynote Speaker
Scott Ulrey: DARPA Contract Management Office – DARPA BiT
Dr. Geoff Ling: Day 2 Conclusion – DARPA BiT

So much good stuff! I just had to make a Storify to integrate the videos with the pics and tweets.

And I made a big playlist with all of the videos so far, from all the sessions (partly because I started making this playlist before I found theirs, and because I want all of it in one place, easy for me to find).

Patricia Anderson: Playlist: DARPAbit: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEEZFNZ4nUEDTdj_dxxYLz9z7kSZH-oP1


REFERENCES (Chronological order)

2015/02

Robbin A. Miranda, William D. Casebeer, Amy M. Hein, Jack W. Judy, Eric P. Krotkov, Tracy L. Laabs, Justin E. Manzo, Kent G. Pankratz, Gill A. Pratt, Justin C. Sanchez, Douglas J. Weber, Tracey L. Wheeler, Geoffrey S.F. Lin. DARPA-funded Efforts in the Development of Novel Brain–Computer Interface Technologies. H+ Magazine February 9, 2015. http://hplusmagazine.com/2015/02/09/darpa-funded-efforts-development-novel-brain-computer-interface-technologies/

Peter Rothman. Video Friday: DARPA Prosthetics Research. H+ Magazine February 13, 2015. http://hplusmagazine.com/2015/02/13/video-friday-darpa-prosthetics-research/

Peter Rothman. Biology is Technology — DARPA is Back in the Game With A Big Vision and It Is H+. H+ Magazine February 15, 2015. http://hplusmagazine.com/2015/02/15/biology-technology-darpa-back-game-big-vision-h/

Max Plenke. These Are the 7 Ways the Government Wants to Change the Human Body for the Future. Tech.Mic June 26, 2015. http://mic.com/articles/121341/darpa-biotech-7-ways-the-government-wants-to-change-the-human-body-for-the-future

2015/04

Peter Rothman. Restoring Active Memory Replay — DARPA Seeks Super Learning and Enhanced Memory Technologies. H+ Magazine April 28, 2015. http://hplusmagazine.com/2015/04/28/restoring-active-memory-replay-darpa-seeks-super-learning-and-enhanced-memory-technologies/

Maxx Chatsko. Can DARPA Change Your Mind on Engineered Biology? The Motley Fool interviews DARPA’s Dr. Alicia Jackson from the Biological Technologies Office. The Motley Fool April 30, 2015. http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2015/04/30/can-darpa-change-your-mind-on-engineered-biology.aspx

2015/06

Sara Reardon. The Pentagon’s gamble on brain implants, bionic limbs and combat exoskeletons. Nature News June 10, 2015. http://www.nature.com/news/the-pentagon-s-gamble-on-brain-implants-bionic-limbs-and-combat-exoskeletons-1.17726

Lily Hay Newman. Researchers Sharing Data Was Supposed to Change Science Forever. Did It? Slate: Future Tense June 24, 2015. http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2015/06/24/darpa_s_biology_is_technology_conference_discusses_problems_with_open_source.html

Brian Wang. DARPA wants to engineer from millions of organisms and not just yeast and ecoli. Next Big Future June 25, 2015. http://nextbigfuture.com/2015/06/darpa-wants-to-engineer-from-millions.html

Carl Engelking. DARPA Is Supposedly Engineering Organisms to Make Mars Livable. Discover Magazine June 26, 2015. http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/d-brief/2015/06/26/darpa-is-engineering-organisms-to-make-mars-livable/

Carl Tanaka. DARPA Genetically Engineering Organisms for Terraforming Mars into Livable Planet. ReliaWire June 27, 2015. http://reliawire.com/2015/06/darpa-genetically-engineering-organisms-for-terraforming-mars-into-livable-planet/

DARPA to terraform Mars with human-engineered organisms. Business Standard June 28, 2015. http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/darpa-to-terraform-mars-with-human-engineered-organisms-115062800459_1.html

What’s New, What’s Hot: My Favorite Posters from #MLAnet15

Part 3 of a series of blogposts I wrote for the recent Annual Meeting of the Medical Library Association.


I had a particular slant, where I was looking for new technology posters, emerging and emergent innovations, but then I was so delighted with the richness of systematic review research being presented, that there is a lot of that, too. The chosen few ran from A to Z, with apps, bioinformatics, data visualization, games, Google Glass in surgery, new tech to save money with ILL operations, social media, Youtube, zombies, and even PEOPLE. What is it with medical librarians and zombies? Hunh. Surely there are other gory engaging popular medical monsters? Anyway, here are some of my favorite posters from MLA’s Annual Meeting. There were so many more which I loved and tweeted, but I just can’t share them all here today. I’ll try to put them in a Storify when I get back home. Meanwhile, look these up online or in the app for more details. By the way, they started to get the audio up, so you can use the app to listen to many of the presenters talk about their poster.

Poster 14:

Poster 28:

Poster 30:

Poster 38:

Poster 40 (and that should read “Twitter”, not “Titter”):

Poster 43:

Poster 54:

Poster 65:

Poster 83:

Poster 100:

Poster 121:

Poster 125:

Poster 130:

Poster 157:

Poster 202:

Poster 224:

Poster 225:

Poster 228:

Poster 238:

Poster 243:

GPII Gives me GOOSEBUMPS!

GPII Introductory Video

We all use technology every day. Well, people reading this blog, anyway. We use it, and everywhere we go, we either carry our own devices or spend time fiddling and fussing to make it work right. Or both. So, … have you heard about GPII?

GPII
Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure (GPII): http://www.gpii.net/

It gives me goosebumps, it really does. I’ve been hearing about this via Jane Vincent, author of “Making the Library Accessible to All” and a colleague here at the University of Michigan. Jane has been working on this project for a long time, before she came here. We are so very lucky to have her here and be informed literally at the ground level as this evolves. So what is it? What does “Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure” actually MEAN? It is the ultimate (for now) in portable technology personalization. Basically, how do you prefer to set up your computer? Now, code that into a little snippet, kind of like a credit card, and you take that with you wherever you go. Want to use a computer? Wave your magic card, and voilà! It’s set up just the way you like it.

I am, of course, oversimplifying, so here is a video introduction, and a video demo. Watch them both, and see if they don’t give you goosebumps, too!

Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure (GPII) w/captions and description:

Human Rights Museum Demo Instructions:

A big part of what I like about it is the community behind the idea and the process. Here’s a grateful nod to the following engaged and supporting organizations.

Cloud 4 All
FLOE Project
FLUID Project (which is worth an entire blogpost on their own!)
Prosperity 4 All
Raising the Floor
TRACE Center, University of Wisconsin

Tech Trends VIII (#mlanet15)

Part 2 of a series of blogposts I wrote for the recent Annual Meeting of the Medical Library Association.


#MLATTT #MLANET15

The event so fondly known as MLATTT is a gathering of a panel of medical librarians who describe new and emerging technologies in what has become, by a kind of traditional, highly entertaining and engaging ways. For many, it is a not-to-be-missed highlight of the annual Medical Library Association meeting. This year was no different, and if anything topped previous years for sheer blistering hilarity. When the video becomes available, this is a must watch. I plan to watch it again, and I was there!

#MLATTT #MLANET15

Eric Schnell gave a talk that had the older members of the audience guffawing with laughter as he extolled the pleasures of emerging technologies from the perspective of the 1980s and 1990s. There were some younger folk asking, “Mosiac? Atari?” It was extremely well scripted and supported with links and images, and delivered completely deadpan.

#MLATTT #MLANET15

The quantified self section presented by Jon Goodall was great fun for me, and I particularly enjoyed how he engaged the audience in reviews of some of the highlighted technologies. It was interesting to see who had used various tools, and whether they worked for them or not.

#MLATTT #MLANET15

Kimberley Barker was incredibly dynamic, personable, and knowledgeable, as she sprinted through a rapidfire, high energy delivery of examples of tools, technologies, and trends relative to what’s happening with the Internet of Things.

#MLATTT #MLANET15

Jason Bengtson gave a candid, rollicking walk-through of some of his thoughts and experiences while creating the engaging information skills tutorial, Zombie Emergency. I was really impressed with how clearly he described the challenges of integrating education goals and content with gaming. Rachel Walden expressed well what I was thinking, when she commented on how impressive it was that Jason coded this, and is giving away the code for free in Github, as CC-licensed. You can find the actual quotes in the Storify, listed at the end of this post.

#MLATTT #MLANET15

J. Dale Prince might have been last, but far from least, as he wittily recounted his tales of being a new Apple Watch owner, pros, cons, and maybes. By the way, if you decide to buy a gold Apple Watch, Dale is willing to trade. ;)

Here’s the Storify, with much much more detail.

An archive of the tweets is available here, through Symplur. Almost 400 tweets in one hour?! That should tell you how much fun folk were having!

http://www.symplur.com/healthcare-hashtags/mlattt/

Molecular Biology & Genomics SIG Meeting #mlanet15

Part 1 of a series of blogposts I wrote for the recent Annual Meeting of the Medical Library Association.


MolBio & Genomics SIG #mlanet15

I’m trying to track what’s going on with emerging technologies, new tools, new-to-me tools, and so forth. I’m not an official member of the MolBioGen SIG, but I wish I was (especially since personal genomics is one of my hobbies). I learned so much at their meeting Monday morning. The best part was the Round Table, where they each talked about who they are, what they do, what’s new at their place. Now, this was exciting! They talked about many tools they seemed to all know and take for granted, and I’ll share some of those later. They also had so many exciting and creative ideas for how to engage their target audiences, types of classes that are most effective, crowdsourcing instruction from within the audience, strategic partnerships that make a difference, strategies for point-of-care genomics, and so much more.

Here are the tools that I found most interesting.

PhenoTips
PhenoTips

Reactome
Reactome

Online Bioinformatics Resource Collection
Bioinformatics MOOCs Example

Galaxy Project
Galaxy

Open Helix
OpenHelix
(Note: These folk are in the Exhibit Hall, if you haven’t seen them yet.)

BioStars
BioStars

GenePool
GenePool

Data Carpentry
Data Carpentry

Project Hydra
Hydra

Fedora
Fedora

NCBI: Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO)
GEO (Gene Expression Omnibus)

Complete Genome: Public Genome Data
Complete Genomics Public Data

NYU Data Catalog
NYU Data Catalog

Want more? Check out the Storify!

Choosing a Tablet Computer for the Elderly & Technophobic

Grandpa

From the “Drafts Pile” post, some folk commented and others emailed, but this was the most requested topic, which made it top of my list for writing the next blog post.

INTRODUCTION

It wasn’t that long ago that we were picking out a tablet for my dad. Back in the day, my dad was a hard core computer geek — programmer, hacker, build-your-own. My childhood was chockfull of tickertape and punchcards and Tandy home computer kits being assembled in the basement. My dad was anything but technophobic, but even for him the new world of the Web was confusing. I remember when he and I were talking on the phone, and he was having a small rant about how he and his tech cronies at the local college had spent hours trying to figure out how to download an image from a web page. They were SO frustrated (this was about 10 years ago). I said, “What?! Right click didn’t work?” and he replied, “Right click? What are you talking about?” I suddenly realized that I had outstripped my father in the realm of technology. I think it was quite a shock for both of us.

When I heard that my dad was still trying to get by using a >10 year old Windows machine, flatbed scanner, and a 2400 baud modem, my heart ached. We kids talked it over and went together to get him and iPad. Why an iPad? Mostly because that’s what other folk in the family had already, and there was built in family assistance for him if he needed help. Not to mention, I could also add the charge for his Internet access to my account, and he never needed to worry about it. But that was us, and that was a few years back.

I cannot imagine how much MORE frustrating and intimidating it must be for people who were never strong with “The Force” when it comes to computers. In my family now, I am the tech wizard and my (ahem, adult) children are the ones who come to me with questions about how to do things. And I go to my geek-squad friends and sister when I get stuck with mobile tech. And someday, I will be like my dad, uncertain in the face of tech that has evolved so quickly it has outstripped my ability to keep up. What are the options now for you and your loved ones?

BACKGROUND

Being a senior doesn’t mean you are technophobic, being a technophobe doesn’t mean you are a senior, and you can still have challenges with technology without falling into either group. In addition to the elderly, there are others, such as children or persons with certain disabilities, who benefit from making tech simpler to use, more self-explanatory, and more durable. Ultimately, making computers easier to use benefits EVERYONE, just like curbcuts for wheelchairs help bicyclists and parent pushing strollers. That’s how accessibility works. What’s important is to not assume that “they can’t do it”, or it can’t be done. Everyday we make progress making computers better, stronger, faster, smarter, and, yes, EASIER. So, while this post focuses on the motivating idea of elderly folk who are struggling with computers, don’t limit your ideas of who might be helped to just those groups.

Seniors and Technology

The Pew Internet Research Center has been tracking how seniors use and work with the Internet since 2001, when only 15% were online (my early adopter dad being one). Now, 14 years later, it’s roughly 60%, and even within those seniors who use the Internet, there is a lot of variation in how well they are able to use it.

“Two different groups of older Americans emerge. The first group (which leans toward younger, more highly educated, or more affluent seniors) has relatively substantial technology assets, and also has a positive view toward the benefits of online platforms. The other (which tends to be older and less affluent, often with significant challenges with health or disability) is largely disconnected from the world of digital tools and services, both physically and psychologically.” Pew. “Older Adults and Technology Use,” 2014.

These two groups aren’t necessarily stable, either. People shift between them. Fifteen years ago, my dad fell into the first group of tech-savvy elders. By the time of his passing, earlier this month, he had shifted largely into the second category, but still wanted to check his email. For others, it might be that a new treatment, supportive living situation, or even a techy gift might actually bring someone MORE into the realm of using the technologies around them. While I was traveling home from my Dad’s funeral, an older woman stopped me in the waiting room at Union Station. Her 82-year-old boyfriend (her words) had given her an iPhone, and her girlfriend was texting her, but she didn’t know how to read or answer the texts. Our conversation ended with, ” … and when it turns green, that means it’s been sent? Oh, thank you!”

Technophobia

Technophobia is a far more important concern than simply one’s age. The fear of the technology can be isolating, keeping people apart from loved ones and friends when this is how they communicate and connect. This is such a problem, that people are actually building tech solutions to address such very specific issues such as sharing baby pictures on Facebook, and how do you include family members who are not ON Facebook? [Check out Kidpost, if you have this challenge in your family.] AARP recommended the Presto Printing Mailbox for seniors without a computer, allowing friends, relatives, and caregivers to send anything from family photos to medication reminders. AARP went on to fund a major white paper on the topic, Connected Living for Social Aging: Designing Technology for All (2011).

The phrase “digital isolation” has been adopted to describe this as a significant social issue within society, with titles like “Digital Isolation Plagues Those Who Need Internet Most” and “What Will Become of Britain’s Digitally Isolated After Martha Lane Fox’s Resignation?” Digital isolation is blamed as a contributing factor to poor outcomes in disaster response and health (especially in diabetes). The origins of technophobia may or may not lie in the technology itself, but the impacts are surely heavily social in nature.

“… rarely, if ever, is technophobia based just on the happenstance of technical ignorance. It almost always has its roots in … a sense of estrangement from the world into which one is cast. Here common sense cannot help, for it is from the prevaling common sense that one is estranged. To the technophobe, the technological world seems alien; to common sense, the technophobe seems foolish.” Burch, Robert. Confronting Technophobia: A Topology. Phenomenology + Pedagogy 1986 4(2):3-21. https://ejournals.library.ualberta.ca/index.php/pandp/article/download/15013/11834

Solutions to technophobia need incorporate that social aspect of the presumed problem. Sarah Maurer recommends that technophobes can get past the fear by starting slowly, taking a class, try a touch screen, get the same types of devices your relatives are using, and ask your kids and grandkids to help you learn your way around.

Maurer, Sarah. 10 Tips to Beat Technophobia: Seniors can conquer their fears and start enjoying online technology. WCCTA WebsiteCompass Spring 2012.

The National Legal Aid and Defender Association recommended in 2004 that you start out by playing Solitaire, using cheatsheets, and don’t make the mistake of asking a true geek for help (because they may not be the best communicators). They also recommended “reverse mentoring,” where you learn something and then teach it to someone else who knows even less. These are still good idea, although some folk might prefer to replace Solitaire with Candy Crush or Trivia Crack or one of the other hot new games.

NLADA. Overcoming Technophobia

More

If you are interested in tracking this area, I have two recommendations. One is Senior Tech Insider, a truly marvelous news tracking service from Karen Heyman which shares news and alerts about telemedicine, accessibility, policy and regulatory issues, and emerging technologies that touch on the lives of the elderly. The other is a counter to the argument I hear so often of, “I’m too old to try.” Me, I’m only approaching 60, so perhaps I’m not a persuasive case. So check out John F. McMullen, who is older than me. I’m not sure how much, but I know he was around for many of the tech events that shaped my youth, and he was tied right into them, knows the folk involved, and still writes about them and how the issues have progressed over time. He’s everywhere online (blogs, BlogTalkRadio, Facebook, Flickr, Google Plus, LinkedIn, OpenSalon, Podbean, Twitter, Youtube, …). He is enormously more engaged in multimedia production than I am. And he still writes and talks about technology. Never say it can’t be done. Heck, did you hear the one about the 114 year old woman who couldn’t register for Facebook because their age verification form didn’t go that far? It’s true.

TECH OPTIONS

So, even with recognizing there are some pretty significant social aspects to working with a loved one to help them get online, and assuming that they don’t have a philosophical opposition to the very concept and are willing to try, what happens next? Where do you go, what factors are most important in your decision, what are the choices? Do you go with a ASUS VivoTab, RealPad, In-Touch, iPad, Kindle Fire, or … what?

COMPARISONS & SELECTION CRITERIA

Checklist

COSTS
– Device Price
– Network Access (is included, or is extra?)
– Monthly fees?
– Carrying case or protection (optional)
– External keyboard (optional)
– Security or registration (optional)
– Training or courses (optional)
– Tech support (included or optional extra?)
HARDWARE OPTIONS
– Display (resolution, crispness, color, screen size, enlargement, zoom, etc.)
– Buttons (size, visibility, clarity of purposes)
– Keyboard (built-in, optional add on, external, on-screen, in-case, …)
– Battery life
– Wall or plug-in charger
– Weight
– Memory card slot (optional)
SPECIAL & PERSONAL FACTORS
– Tech Support available, what kind, does it match person’s preferences?
– Interface & appearance
– Accessibility & font enlargement
– Background Skills
– Special health concerns that may impact on how device is used
– Apps available for personal interests
– Apps available for hobbies & games
– Apps available for special health needs or tracking

More resources

For Dummies: For Seniors: Buying the Right Tablet: http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/for-seniors-buying-the-right-tablet.html

My Ageing Parent: Computers or tablets for older people? http://www.myageingparent.com/computers-or-tablets-which-are-better-for-older-people/

My Ageing Parent: Are there better tablets for elderly than iPad? http://www.myageingparent.com/better-tablet-ipad-elderly/

New York Public Library: Tablet Buying Guide: A Primer for Technophobes, Luddites and the Just Plain Confused (2013) http://www.nypl.org/blog/2013/12/20/tablet-buying-guide

Senior Planet: The Best Tablets for Technophobes (2014) http://seniorplanet.org/the-best-tablets-for-technophobes/

TechRiggs: Best Tablets for Seniors and Elderly Senior Citizens (2015) http://www.techriggs.com/best-tablets-for-seniors-and-elderly-senior-citizens/

HARDWARE OPTIONS

These are currently the best known and available tablet computers which were either designed explicitly for seniors or which are being promoted as useful for that demographic. Several of these were designed in collaboration with seniors, such as the AARP RealPad and the Senior Touchpad. Some of these have been around a while and have a lot of pre-existing support resources, like the iPad, Chromebook, and Kindle. Others are brand new, like the GrandPad, just announced in February 2015.

MORE:

Best Tablets for Seniors and Elderly Senior Citizens http://www.techriggs.com/best-tablets-for-seniors-and-elderly-senior-citizens/

Don’t waste your money on AARP’s RealPad http://www.modern-senior.com/dont-waste-money-aarps-realpad/

Great deals on tablets for seniors: http://www.modern-senior.com/great-deals-tablets-seniors/