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Enhancing Communication / Part 2: In a Different Voice


reverse mortgage newsLast month we focused on leading technologies and strategies to help reverse mortgage clients and prospects with hearing loss. But what if your client can’t speak?

In the past, people turned to augmentative communication devices such as a picture board or touch screen that used pictures or symbols. The speech-impaired person might touch the image of a glass to ask for a drink. While such devices can be customized, they’re still a far cry from full communication. And they only work in face-to-face interactions.

But we live in the age of smart. Now, on the heels of smart phones, comes Smartstones.

Smartstones is, yes, a stone that enables the user to tap rather than talk, using touch and gesture to send a clear message — and at distance. With a touch or swipe as on a typical keypad, a Smartstones user can send a message that they’re on the way, feel fine (or blue), or any number of basic messages one might send with a text. The difference is, this wearable “status-casting” device is small, screenless, and goes anywhere. Designed for mobility (the key to aging in place for most seniors), Smartstones are the size of a small river stone (and resemble one) that may be worn, held, or kept in a pocket without weighing the user down. They open up a whole new meaning to “rock and roll.”

“Smartstones are the quintessential example of ‘high tech meets high touch,'” says gerontologist Katy Fike, cofounder of Aging2.0. “While the device itself is extremely high-tech, the user experience is beautifully simple and intuitive. Smartstones opens up new communication channels and ways to stay connected.”

Smartstones: prose is a new product, now in beta, that enables people with verbal communication challenges due to stroke, dementia, etc. to “speak”. With one simple touch, family members (or a reverse mortgage candidate and LO) can communicate with one another non-verbally.

The criteria for participation are:

  • Person with a diagnosis of some form of communication challenge (stroke, dementia, other) or a caregiver that is able to help facilitate
  • Own or use of an iPhone 4S or newer, iOS 8
  • Ability to physically maneuver phone (e.g. able to swipe screen and move actual phone from side to side)
  • Cognitive ability to utilize language skills, but unable to communicate verbally

If you know of any qualified candidates for the Smartstones beta test, have them visit this page to request participation. A quantum leap forward from personal alert systems, a Smartstone also might be the device that saves a senior’s life.


Leave a Comment


  1. The smartstone story is remarkable, mostly, I think, because of your wide open belief in overcoming stuff in the road. Keep on, Amara. In the RM industry, new ideas are desperately needed to cut a path around the regulators who discredit us because we try.

    People like you will keep us positive as we struggle into the future. Thanks.

  2. Hi Warren,

    I so appreciate your comment, and am gratified you find the posts useful. That’s my goal: to share senior-relevant information that supports your reverse mortgage business.


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