For a really long time, I’ve been looking for something for a family member which could enable me to send them messages, video chat with them, send them photos. The sort of things that smart-phone, tablet and computer users take for granted. But this family member, unfortunately, had none of those things and furthermore, was very tech-using-averse.
Every now and again, when I was at my desk and avoiding work, which is actually every day, I would look to see if something had come up. I had got them a clock which told them the day, time, weather, in their mother tongue. But that’s all it did, and I couldn’t communicate with them through it and anyway, after a year, it stopped working.
Then one evening, I don’t know what magical combination of words I put in to Google, but I read about something called the Komp. The Komp is a flat screen unit. It needs electricity to work (ie a power source) and a working internet connection. Here is a picture of it I’ve stolen from the Komp – website with permission:
The Komp, made by Norwegian company – I say geniuses – No Isolation.
It looks a bit like an old fashioned TV doesn’t it? And for the end user all there is to operate is the knob which switches off to the left with a lovely kinda thud, and on to the right with volume raising by going further right.
That is it.
All the tech part is done by the other users and this is how it works:
You get the unit, above, and it has its own unique number. You down load the Komp app and register the unit (so for my family member I got it sent to me, first) and everything you do is via the Komp app from here-on-in. You can, if you have the end users router details (for the sake of brevity we’re going to call the end user Grandma okay?) input the name of the router and the wi fi key so that when it goes to Grandma’s house it just needs to be plugged in and then it will find the router.
(Please see update below on the new model which has wi-fi built in.)
You can have more than one admin, but let’s image you are the admin, you can add family members – and they can only call/message/photobomb grandma if you send them an invite so it’s ultra secure. So they too will need to download the app (so everything is done via the app so yes you need a smartphone with a working number and anyone else who wants to contact grandma needs a smartphone with a working number). You as admin can also see what everyone else is doing in terms of sending photos and messages (but not if they’ve video called).
Once you are all set up you can:
Message grandma saying things like “I’ll call you this evening” or “Don’t forget you have an appointment with Giovanni at 10am.”
You can send photos to grandma with or without text on them, so you can send a photo of your lunch, or your holiday.
But best of all, you can video call grandma.
Now here is where it gets a tiny bit complicated but only the tiniest bit. Grandma can’t choose to answer the Komp, at her end, because it’s kept purposely simple. If the Komp is on, then both at her end and your end, it counts down from 10 to 1 and then there you both are! So you may prefer to ring first on the landline to say “I’m going to call you on the Komp”, because otherwise it’s a bit invasive.
Although the Komp (short for, and a play on, computer) is mobile in that it’s not particularly heavy you do, I think, need to find a place to put it and keep it there. My family member has it on her dining table so she can sit and chat.
The quality is amazing. Amazing. I sometimes can’t see her so clearly – which is a feature of the internet my end – but she can see me like “I’m in the room” (the screen is nice and big on the Komp) which isn’t always good cos I also get comments like “what’s happened to your face” and “you look tired” and “your hair is so white now”.
Yes the family member is my mother.
But she loves it even though she grumbled so much when I first got it for her. Now she can actually understand that far from having abandoned her as she tells everyone, I not only think of her several times a day but also now she knows it cos I send her messages, pictures and call her and she can see me and I her and this makes her feel less like, well, she’s been abandoned (I would also like to point out that I have always rung my mum at least once a day). The only problemo is that, like a lot of old people, I find, she does sometimes switch it off at the plug/router (you can switch it off on the unit, via the knob) because she thinks it’s going to eat electricity. But, this is her perogative. It has a sleep function – which you as admin control via your smartphone – so it can go to sleep between whatever hours you choose which means the screen goes black, otherwise the screen shows any messages you’ve sent or photos. But it will still let you video call in an emergency in sleep function.
You can control how long the messages/photos are up there for too.
It’s brilliant. I don’t know why more people don’t know about it. I have nothing to do with the company, they didn’t pay me, I paid them, just like everyone else: it’s £39 a month and you trial if for a minimum of three months. My children both have it so they can – and do – send my mum pictures. My mum loves it. I can honestly say it’s probably the only thing I’ve ever got her which she really, truly, loves (other than of course grandchildren..).
And if that isn’t worth £39 a month, I seriously don’t know what is.
It took me a while to get my head round it so any questions please post in the comments so others can also benefit.
Oh and the after help is also extraordinary. I seem to have my very own ‘success’ agent in Oslo who I’ve formed quite a friendship with. Here’s a video which explains a bit more about how it works:
Update: the new model has wi-fi built in!