Masako Wakamiya TED talk

Elderly developer creates app just for seniors

WHEN you need something done, better off doing it yourself!

That was the motto of 82-year-old developer Masako Wakamiya who turned her frustration in the lack of seniors-specific online services into a "fun app".

A self-taught software developer, Wakamiya, a former banker, took up the profession in the 1990s when, taking care of her mother, she built her own computer.

She then became involved with the early beginnings of the internet and, subsequently, with digital technologies such as smartphones.

However, she noticed a glaring omission from the digital landscape: content for seniors.

Wakamiya approached several software developers about building at least one seniors-specific app, but was turned away at every meeting.

That's when Wakamiya decided to learn how to code and create her own.

"I wanted to create a fun app to get elderly people interested in smartphones," she told gineersnow.com. "It took about half a year to develop."

The result of Wakamiya's hard work and determination is the app Hinadan, an iOS game based on the traditional Japanese festival Hinamatsuri, or Doll's Day.

The game provokes the user into putting the dolls in correct positions which, despite the instructions, is much harder than it sounds.

Hinadan is only available in Japanese, but after 42,000 downloads and many positive reviews, Wakamiya is hoping to release the app in English, Chinese and French.

The success of the app even caught the attention of Apple chief executive Tim Cook.

"He asked me what I had done to make sure that older people could use the app," she revealed.

"I explained that I'd thought about this in my programming - recognizing that older people lose their hearing and eyesight, and their fingers might not work so well."


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