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A novel and intuitive communication interface providing life enriching experiences for users in risk of social exclusion

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - IrisPhone (A novel and intuitive communication interface providing life enriching experiences for users in risk of social exclusion)

Reporting period: 2016-03-01 to 2016-08-31

The project is centred on the IrisPhone, a novel and intuitive communication interface providing life enriching experiences for users in risk of social exclusion. The IrisPhone is a new and intuitive way of experiencing the smartphone, one which eliminates the need of pressing buttons or using the touchscreen: the user can place or hover the smartphone (modified android system) over an image to execute the desired command that is depicted. The overall objective of this project is to verify the need for the product in larger markets, its usefulness and usability, not only to the end users, but to their carers as well, with a feasibility study as the end deliverable.

We aim to establish which features are most desirable, which can be added by testing out further device integration, and how the end user can get the best possible experience out of the IrisPhone at the most affordable price range. This will be accomplished via surveys, small scale demonstrations to select audiences, focus groups and interviews, with each method adapted to accommodate for the region we are researching. Factors that will influence the final product will also be considered throughout the project’s duration, like gender differences, effects of specific disabilities and elderly who are more socially excluded than others.

Furthermore, the subsequent layer to this project involves studying the financial viability and potential commercial success, following in depth market research, population statistics, reports on socioeconomic conditions and assessment of the various regions worth exploring, for a better revenue stream estimate. Competitor analysis and evaluations are to be conducted during the market research as well.

Production and upscale, costings, technical analysis on the server infrastructure, legal and IPR issues, and environmental impact assessments are also important for an accurate image of the product's costs, followed lastly by the creation of an achievable business plan based on the results and findings of the above tasks.The conclusion of the feasibility study is that the IrisPhone can be a viable business, even though it will be marked by a slow start until we successfully establish our market position.
Analytical overview of the completed tasks in summarized format:

The IrisPhone SME project had very clear and distinct goals set out to be completed, in order to create a comprehensive feasibility study that would aid us in our pre-commercialization phase in determining where we should place our focus on, as well as correctly identifying all the costs associated with the actual commercialization phase.

Through the feasibility study we would also be able to determine how strong our chances would be if we were to launch in the European and South African market. By identifying whether such a launch would be successful or not, we would then be able to examine how we could further improve the IrisPhone, with region specific localisations in order to increase the IrisPhone’s appeal.

The first step in the process was the study of the EU and SA market. The EU countries that we decided to focus on initially were the United Kingdom, Germany and Spain. The UK was chosen due to the low language barrier and the previous ties the founders had with the region. Germany was selected for similar reasons, and lastly Spain was chosen due to the cultural similarities it has with Cyprus. In that regard Italy and Greece were also suitable candidates, but due to the recent financial troubles those regions have been facing we decided to avoid them during our initial commercialisations. South Africa was deemed an appropriate candidate due to the ties we established with the Cypriot branch of MTN, which would be the easiest gateway for us to access the market.

From the initial research results that were completed remotely, it was clear that a market for the IrisPhone existed for the following reasons: all the regions have a high number of elderly, a number that is only going to keep growing; they are currently catered by devices that have limited functionality and rely on non-intuitive methods of operation; various services exist that try to accommodate to the elderly’s needs, by a number of institutions and organisations who we could potentially work with in order to gain initial access to a segment of the elderly population and expand our network from there; and lastly certain trends among the elderly were reconfirmed, increasing the likelihood of a successful market launch. These trends include minor disabilities, loneliness in weak family units, caregivers’ concerns in stronger family units, an increase in acceptance of health monitoring and the desire to be more socially active and productive.

This was followed by looking at our end users more closely through surveys, interviews and presentations. Through this task we were able to better identify which features the users are more interested in, as well as identify how the product can be further elevated after our realization that there is a large number of users who would want to see the inclusion of a tablet like screen in the base. We also identified other clients that we can approach differently (more customized versions of the IrisPhone for elderly care home integration) and how the IrisPhone can be diversified in other markets, such as children with special needs. The regulations and certifications that would affect our product’s production were also looked at in more detail, with the most important one being the CE mark.

During this time, we also tested out the identified devices that could be integrated in the IrisPhone ecosystem, as well as establish the more technical background aspects that we should keep in mind with our cloud based features. Finally, one of the more important tasks involved the production and upscale planning. In this task we were able to fully analyse all the product components, the costs and assembly process, identify how we would tackle the manufacturing, the distribution channels, our ordering systems, as well as our health and safety, future additions, risk management and SWOT analysis. We also conducted a simple LCA, to determine which environmen
When we first started our project our focus was on eliminating the digital and physical complexities that are currently a hindrance to our target users via the options that are currently in the market. Our intention was to bridge them with technology in a format they would find as easy and intuitive as possible, which is why our initial IrisPhone version was a plastic base that grouped together the features that were considered the most relevant and applicable to their lifestyle.

During the duration of the SME project however, we realized that a large number of users was willing to replace the plastic base with a big tablet screen like surface. This is a very positive indication of the wider digital acceptance that seems to be occurring throughout Europe and an exciting way for our product to evolve into an even more intuitive format.

While our methodology would remain the same, with the user having to simply move the smartphone over the action they wish to execute (while allowing the execution to occur without the help of the phone as well), utilizing a specially designed screen implies that the base’s contents would be able to intuitively change according to how the user is operating the system at the time. The new design which incorporates a slim touch screen with human-centric interface is a progress beyond the current state of the art which gives users more value for money and make central home operations and connectivity with health and IoT devices through the IrisPhone truly intuitive, eliminating the limitations we were facing with content presentation.

As such, we are already in the process of updating our IP to reflect these product changes and expect the more intelligent version of the IrisPhone to appear in the market shortly after the introduction of the simple base, which will be aimed at the much older generations who still oppose using a touchscreen.
An quick overview on how the system looks and what it does, as well as the target audience.