Interactive games bring laughter and smiles to seniors

Hillel's Tech Corner: Interactive games bring laughter and smiles to seniors

EyeClick's tech turns any surface into interactive game (photo credit: Courtesy)
EyeClick's tech turns any surface into interactive game
(photo credit: Courtesy)
As the country begins to open up yet again with hopes that the numbers of COVID-19 patients don’t rise, there is one population that suffers more than the rest of us. I am of course referring to the elderly community. Whether they are at home or reside in live-in facilities, they are at higher risk and their isolation and loneliness is rapidly deepening. As a result, reports of depression are on the rise. This in turn, can lead to physical and mental decline.
An Israeli company called EyeClick is taking a very unique approach to make the lives of senior citizens that much easier throughout this difficult time.
A leader in interactive technology, the company is aiming to improve the conditions of senior housing facilities with specially designed interactive tech to enhance residents’ engagement and fun, with a product suitable for the novel coronavirus era.
EyeClick is the creator of BEAM and Obie, two award-winning gaming solutions that turn any space into a gaming experience. The company realized that their interactive products provided a solution to bring more joy and smiles to seniors living in these communities.
Led by CEO & founder Ariel Almos, EyeClick has a rich history of helping businesses worldwide stand out by offering unique entertainment experiences for their young audiences. Ariel came up with the idea to develop an interactive game when he was in business school and that was when EyeClick was born. Today, EyeClick has three offices around the world, the main headquarters in Israel, sales and customer support in the US and a game development studio located in Vietnam, which is where all the game content is created.
Today, EyeClick has over 10,000 product installations in 80 countries and estimates their user base at approximately 10 million to 15 million active users on a monthly basis. EyeClick’s clients include McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, Virgin, and others, all over the world.
EyeClick’s interactive technology makes it possible to turn any physical surface (floor, wall, or table) into an interactive activity surface through projection and motion sensors. EyeClick has also created over 200 games that combine physical and social play through touch and body movements, without the need for additional accessories. The company’s vision is to create an environment that merges both physical activity and digital gaming experiences offering players of all ages a physical and social gaming experience that contributes to cognitive and emotional development and well being.
As a result of COVID, practically overnight, the company received an overwhelming number of requests from senior living facilities all over the world interested in purchasing their interactive product. Many senior facilities were looking for creative ways to expose more advanced technology to their residents but also needed a product that residents would easily understand how to use. Obie turned out to be the perfect solution to fill the almost endless free time their residents had with meaningful activities that enhance their quality of life.
Senior facilities loved that Obie’s games provided a safe and nearly germ-free activity, with nothing to clean (besides the table between players). The hygienic aspect of the product was a huge selling point as was their seamless projection to create meaningful experiences.
EyeClick quickly understood that a different approach was needed than that of their traditional games for children (after all, the aim is not to get people to jump up and down... ) and revamped their game content to make it more senior appropriate. The changes address all of the elements of the games, including the visual, speed, levels and sound to make them the most enjoyable for the diverse needs of the older population. EyeClick created game content that fell under three different categories: games that simulate cognitive activity, games that focus on social interaction and games that encourage moving.
One of Obie’s games that encourage movement is a game called Piano. In order to play, residents need to step or tap on interactive piano keys to produce sound. Similar to a real piano, each key produces its musical note, which is great for visual stimulation and physical movement. Playing a virtual piano also helps give residents a feeling of accomplishment and cognitive achievement. Music is superb therapy for stimulating memory and improving a sense of rhythm.
The company hired a team of experts with vast experience in the senior market. They brought in Prof. Elkhonon Goldberg, a clinical neuropsychologist and cognitive neuroscientist, and professor in the Department of Neurology at NYU School of Medicine. Goldberg helped update EyeClick’s interactive games to ensure that the Obie games for seniors empower mobility to keep residents more active, improve cognitive activity creating safe play experiences, and provide social interactions. Professor Goldberg’s goal was to make sure that all of Obie’s unique game content was cognitively stimulating and also physically invigorating: a winning combination.
EYECLICK AlSO hired Michal Herz – holder of a doctorate in aging and psychology and who works as an adviser to the World Health Organization – to really take Obie to the next level. With over 20 years in the field of aging, Herz is solely focused on ensuring that Obie makes an impact on improving and enhancing the quality of life in care-giving facilities.
For several months now, EyeClick’s systems have been installed in a number of organizations inside Israel (such as the Keshet Association in Jaffa and Petah-Tikva, the Sephardic Home for the Aged in Haifa, Tovei Ha’ir Residence in Jerusalem), and the feedback has been excellent. The company has received feedback like “Obie is the next generation of care,” “People are waiting in line to play,” and, “Our residents are finally smiling again.”
EyeClick recently signed a large partnership with Sheatufim and Veshamarta here in Israel, which is a joint effort of philanthropists and social entrepreneurs, Israel’s government, and the Jewish Joint-Eshel organization. Sheatufim chose to partner with EyeClick after examining various solutions to handle the social isolation of residents.
Obie is currently installed in the biggest senior living centers in the US. One of Obie’s recent installations is in CompleteCare Management based in New Jersey, part of the Northwind Senior Care Group. Northwind has an aggressive plan to implement Obie in all its subsidiaries. Obie by EyeClick has also seen rapid adoption in senior care facilities around the world. In addition to Israel and the US, several installations are currently happening across Europe as well.
EyeClick’s overarching vision is to expand their interactive products to more and more verticals and to audiences where Obie’s unique benefits can be utilized. EyeClick sees their interactive games as a “universal” platform for simple and “natural” interactivity with different types of content that can be used in various setups and applications. As the product evolves, the company is looking to create a strong content marketplace around it while continuing to improve the hardware platform and produce mass-market versions of the product.
EyeClick has received a total of $1.8 million in funding from angel investors Guy Gamzu, Jonathan Kolber and Roy Oron.
It is heartwarming to see a company using cutting edge technology to enhance the lives of those who need it most during this trying period.