7 June 2006

Eldy, an operating system for the elderly

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Eldy desktop
The Italian newspaper La Repubblica reports that Eldy, an Italian non-profit organisation aimed at promoting computer skills and access to new technologies, is about to launch a version of the Linux operating system that has been conceived for those who have never accessed a pc before, and in particular those over 55 who have difficulties with understanding terms like “blog”, “chat”, “e-mail” and “url”.

“We are convinced that by creating an operating system with a usability aimed at those over 55 who access a pc for the first time, we can help reduce the digital divide, especially if we also develop some contents that stimulate the creativity of the users,” explain those in charge of the project.

The operating system can be installed (with a very simple installation procedure) on a regular pc or on specially developed hardware. Without being experts, users can navigate the internet, chat, make video calls, use e-mail, view movies and manage multimedia contents from photos to music to e-books. They will also have immediate access to the latest news, the weather forecast and to a simple word processing tool. The ease of use will also be manifest in the graphic design and the highly understandable language itself (e.g. “mail your letter” rather than “send your e-mail”).

The Linux distribution – based on “Slax” – can be downloaded for free. In the future the developers want to add software to their operating system allowing people to manage their healthcare bills, to write legally valid auto-declarations, to access particular services of the “post office online” and the “church online”, and to use e-commerce services.

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