Mason Professor Names Top Five ‘Nana’ Technology Holiday Gifts

Posted: November 19, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Marjorie Musick

Andrew Carle
Andrew Carle
Creative Services Photo

With the holiday season about to get under way, Mason professor Andrew Carle has released his third annual list of the best high-tech gifts for grandparents and other seniors.

Carle, director of Mason’s Program in Assisted Living/Senior Housing Administration, is internationally recognized for coining the term “nana” technology to describe microchip-based products that can improve quality of life for older adults.

“New technologies are providing greater independence and autonomy for seniors, and this is a trend that will continue as the general population ages,” says Carle.

Carle’s top five “nana” technology holiday gifts for 2008 are

1. Locator: Allows location of up to four “radio tagged” items at distances up to 600 feet. A handheld remote provides audio and visual indicators that direct users to within one inch of the item’s actual location. “We’ve all spent too much time trying to remember where we parked the car, or left our keys or wallet,” says Carle. Retails for $189. Available from

2. SmartShopper: A “best of show” winner at the 2007 International Home and Housewares Show, the 7x4x1-inch device attaches magnetically to a refrigerator and then uses voice recognition technology to identify and record up to 2,500 grocery items. A list that is categorized by grocery department can then be printed for easy shopping. This tool can also record, save and print commonly run errands. Retails for $99. Available from

3. Celery – Computerless E-mail: A Popular Science “Best of What’s New” Award Winner, the centralized service allows use of a tabletop printer/fax and standard phone line for converting and sending handwritten notes via e-mail. It can also convert e-mails and photos that are received from family and friends into printed, faxed letters. “E-mail has become too important a part of our world to have grandparents left out,” says Carle. “This puts them in the loop without the need for a computer, or even the Internet.” Printer/fax available from Celery for $89 with monthly service for $13.98 (color) or $8.98 (black and white). Available from

4. TVEars: Wireless headset and recharging base uses patented technology to enhance television dialogue and reduce background noise without affecting other listeners. The device also automatically adjusts the sound down when commercials come on. Retails from $99 to $249. Available at

5. GEM Car: For those wanting to go all out, the GEM car provides transportation in a miniaturized, electric vehicle that is street-legal on most public roads that are posted at 35 miles per hour or less, in states that have approved the use of neighborhood electric vehicles. The car has a range of up to 30 miles per charge. “We need to get seniors out of unsafe golf carts and into vehicles that will allow them to safely run their daily errands,” says Carle. Base models start at $6,795. Available at

The list above reflects Carle’s opinions and is not based on formal criteria.

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