Chumby: A Great, Simple Internet Device for the Elderly

Chumby

My parents are in their late 80s, thankfully still in good health, but as you might expect, a little forgetful. They live on their own and are still quite independent but I thought I should look into some sort of reminder device which would be easy for them to use. I’ve already tried a whiteboard without much success. I had already heard about the Chumby on the TWiT podcast a couple of years ago but I came across a great post Dad vs the Chumby which convinced me it was worth getting one for my parents to try. So I picked up a new Chumby One on eBay and set it up with the apps I thought they would find useful – news, clock, weather, Flickr photos, etc. I’ve had it for about a week now and am still learning about it. The Chumby is a great little wi-fi device – it’s like a small TV screen but with a personalized, simple, always-on, multimedia internet. All the apps or widgets you’ve set up on it cycle through continuously so it’s great for the elderly. No interaction necessary. Even the alarm seems fairly straightforward to set up so they should manage that too.

But I couldn’t find a good reminder app for the Chumby – something which would, for example, pop up a colour screen with a big clear reminder message and an audible alarm at the event time. So I looked around the Chumby forum and hunted through all the apps available and this is what seems to be available as reminder apps at the moment.

Send2Chumby

Just add this app to the channel you want then visit the Send2Chumby URL shown at the bottom of the widget. This URL lets me send messages and reminders from my PC to the Chumby as shown in the image at the top of this post. Doesn’t seem to be any way to delete old messages though. It saves the last 10 messages you’ve sent then starts overwriting the oldest messages. You can tap the screen to cycle through the messages. In the link I gave above, the poster did much the same thing by using Twitter to send tweet reminders from an account set up specifically for the Chumby to monitor.

Toodledo to Chumby RSS Reader

This was a tip I read on the Chumby forum. First add the Chumby RSS Reader app to the channel you want on the Chumby. Then on your PC, sign up for a free account with Toodledo if you don’t already have one and add the tasks, events, appointments and reminders there. I found it better to enable the Start Date field rather than the Due Date field so you can suppress future events/tasks. You do that under Settings, Tasks, Fields/Functions Used. Then get an RSS feed of your tasks in Toodledo by going to Tools, More, scroll down to Other Tools and Services and under RSS you can enable the RSS feed and get the feed URL. I also checked Only Publish the Hotlist.  Now tasks with a future Start-Date will be hidden from the hotlist regardless of their priority, due-date, status or star so no reminders for future start dates will appear on Chumby. Then add the URL of your RSS feed to the Chumby RSS Reader. Now all tasks, events, appointments and reminders on your hotlist in Toodledo will appear on the Chumby.

Chumby Alarm

This is the best alternative if you want an audible alarm and short message at a particular time rather than a general text reminder which the first two methods gave. The Custom alarms are easy to set up and pretty customisable but the only downside is that the reminder text doesn’t really stand out too well on the screen. You can partly get round this by using different audible alarms for different events.

Well that’s a quick look at the benefits Chumby can have for the elderly particularly as a reminder aid. If you have any thoughts or know of a better reminder setup for the Chumby, please drop a comment below. Or what do you use to help elderly parents remember things?

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