Just in time for Grandparents Day, Panasonic, a brand you may associate more with televisions than seniors, now has an app specifically targeted for grandparents. The app is called HomeTeam, and it’s available on Android, iOS, and for the PC or Mac. The premise behind it is to allow grandparents to engage with their grandchildren in real time to do more than just video chat, but also read books, and play games.
You can get a free thirty day membership. At the end of thirty days, you can either choose to stay a Basic member, which pretty well limits you to videochats. The Premium membership gives you access to a full library of eBooks, games as well as d video chat. Premium membership is $9.00 per month or $90 for a full year.
HomeTeam will work on the majority of connected devices, though it is optimized for desktops, laptops, and tablets, not smartphones. As of now it does not run on either Amazon Kindle devices or on Microsoft tablets. As compared to photo sharing or video chatting it offers a true interactive experience so grandparents can help their grandkids learn to read or play games. The membership is good for up to five people in a single family. It’s set up so that if your Internet connection goes down, your last page is saved to your HomeTeam cloud page, allowing you to pick up where you left off. And while video chatting with your grandchild may yield some priceless memories, at the moment there’s no capability to record them.
According to Steve Safier, President of Health & Wellness Solutions at Panasonic North America, HomeTeam has a number of content partners, including Disney. The site has about 1300 books now, which Safier says will soon grow to about 2,000. He says that there are also about fifteen games on the site. Because it is a closed system, subscribers are not able to add their own books or games to their personal HomeTeam pages.
This may seem like a strange space for Panasonic, which is better known for consumer electronics and appliances such as televisions, cameras, and personal care items And after all, Panasonic doesn’t even make any of the gadgets used by HomeTeam such as tablets. I asked Safier why Panasonic has decided to enter this space. He told me that Panasonic’s Health and Wellness Solutions Business already has several endeavors that help seniors and others, including through the remote monitoring of patients at home. He says,
“we started to look at other technologies that support seniors. We initially started looking at location monitoring. What we found was that seniors really wanted to use technology that would help them connect, that would help them enjoy life more. Certainly there is a need to help seniors who are disabled, but we found there’s a strong need to help them keep more connected.and engaged. And when we talked to them about being engaged with their family, their eyes lit up. When you think about the growing number of seniors, the numbers of families who are apart, we spoke to grandparents and parents and decided that this was something we just had to try. We’re also pitching it to traveling parents so that when they are on the road they can read a book to their kids.”
Panasonic is counting on is longstanding brand reputation with grandparents to help establish it in this new market. HomeTeam launched just two days before Grandparents Day, and if successful, the phrase, “tell me a story, Grandpa,” need no longer be bound by location.