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Smart Companion awarded in “Prémio Zon Criatividade 2011”

AICOS’ project Smart Companion was awarded with the 2nd place in the competition “Prémio Zon Criatividade 2011”, in the “Multimedia Content and Applications” category. This distinction rewards the hard work of the Smart Companion development team, which is coordinated by the project leader Paula Alexandra Silva. The awards ceremony took place on the 31st January in “Fundação Champaulimaud”, Lisbon.

Among all the semi-finalist projects in the “Multimedia Content and Applications” category, Smart Companion stood out by its originality, usefulness, practical utility and market potential – some of the reasons why the jury of the competition chose Smart Companion to be among the winners of “Prémio Zon Criatividade 2011”.

This initiative by Zon intends to encourage the promotion and development of multimedia and audiovisual industry in Portugal and stimulate further research in these fields, by promoting the work of multidisciplinary research and international scientific cooperation. Zon received more than 200 applications, including international competitors from Europe, the USA and Australia.

With so many good projects competing in this contest, Fraunhofer Portugal is very grateful that Zon and the jury decided to award Smart Companion. The prize money will get fully reinvested, allowing AICOS to extend its activities related to the development of smartphone solutions for senior citizens!

Smart Companion is one of Fraunhofer AICOS’ flagship projects. It’s an Android OS customization designed from scratch having in mind older people’s specific needs and requirements. The objective of Smart Companion was to create a smartphone that could easily be used by the senior population and, more than that, to serve the elderly as real “companion” in order to handle daily tasks more easily. More information on this project is available in its website and presentation.

Smart Companion started as an internal project of Fraunhofer AICOS, but it rapidly caught the attention of the industry and some of the important players in the IT and communications field showed interest for the idea and for the technology developed at AICOS.

Consequently the internal project Smart Companion evolved to an external project: S4S (Smartphones for Seniors), which involves an industry consortium with the participation of Microsoft, Optimus, DEVSCOPE and WIT Software, making use of the services provided by Fraunhofer Portugal, the University of Aveiro and the University of Lisbon (Faculty of Science).

The main goal of S4S is to create an integrated solution for smartphones, dedicated to senior users and running on the recent Windows Phone 7 platform. This will allow Fraunhofer Portugal’s customers to extend the market reach of their solutions to the rapidly growing group of seniors.

Therefore, the QREN co-financed project S4S, which will also offer a huge potential for internationalization, as it will provide a solution for a market segment that is growing faster than any other. According to the Nielsen’s Q3/2011 survey on mobile users in the USA, the smartphone penetration by age groups is showing the ‘soon-to-be seniors’ are adopting smartphones faster than any other age group.

While the smartphone penetration in the 55-64 segment was 17% in the third quarter in 2010, it was 30% in the same period of 2011. The S4S solutions will not only benefit from this growth, but the demand driven design of S4S will also meet the requirements of the age group 65+, that suffers from the incompatibility of most current smartphone platforms. Thus, S4S will also help our customers to stimulate the same growth rate for their products in the rapidly growing group of people above 65.

Ultimately, from the user perspective S4S will allow for seniors to have easier access to ICT solutions and to get better integrated in the Information and Knowledge Society (IKS).

With its expertise and knowledge on developing remarkable and easy-to-use technology for senior citizens, Fraunhofer AICOS is a key technology player in the project. By providing support to its industrial customers, Fraunhofer helps to develop better products more rapid and efficient.

For more information on S4S please visit the project’s website or check its presentation.

Source: 08.02.2012, Fraunhofer Portugal

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