Viktor: smart cushion tackling isolation among seniors

This innovation from Fingertips, co-developed with Orange, promotes social links between elderly people living at home and their friends and family. Connected to their TV, Viktor enables them to receive video calls, photos and messages, while offering access to a range of entertainment content. Its touch-sensitive interface makes it very simple to use.

The key aspect is how it is used, with products adapted for various profiles.

“Design through emotion”. These are the words used by Alain Tixier, Fingertips’ founder, to define his creation: the Viktor cushion. An outstanding “social-tech” tool, this smart cushion has just been launched in a new version, developed jointly by Fingertips and Orange, and is available in the Group’s stores for the 2019 Christmas and New Year festive season.

A cushion that cares

According to the 2019 Digital Market Barometer, 19% of people aged 60 to 69 and 42% of people over 70 never use the Internet, often due to a lack of experience in using it. According to INSEE, the number of seniors facing a loss of independence could rise from 2.5 million in 2015 to almost 4 million by 2050, corresponding to a 60% increase over the period.

“Digital exclusion has an even greater impact on people faced by a loss of independence, and their carers are looking for suitable solutions for them”, explains Stéphanie Lazaroo, Director of Innovation for Seniors in Orange’s Societal Engagement and Accessibility Division.

“When we saw the Viktor cushion at the Vivatech show, we found that it was extremely easy to use and could clear this technological barrier for seniors and people faced by a loss of independence”, confirms Franck Humily, Director of Autonomy at Orange.

How does it work?

Viktor won gold in the 2017 Lépine competition and was developed in 2019 as a genuine decorative sofa cushion, looking just like any other cushion on the surface. On one side, you will find some truly classic designs. It only reveals its true capabilities when you turn it over. It activates, and this other side shows an interface with access to various services:

  • Videoconferencing, so as to chat directly with their friends and family
  • Photo sharing
  • A messaging service, so as to communicate with their carers, for instance
  • A diary, to remind them of their appointments
  • And lastly, entertainment, with a streaming service for copyright-free audiobooks, music and films, managed by Fingertips

Simplified interface

Each service or feature, represented by a dedicated icon on the cushion, is launched through simple hand pressure. Inside Viktor, a series of capacitive sensors react to their touch and launch the corresponding applications on their TV screen. The interface has been designed to ensure maximum simplicity for seniors with impaired vision or joint pains. To meet this challenge, Fingertips and the teams from Orange worked with various ergonomic studies to choose the best type of filling. The cushion’s special foam makes it drop-resistant, lightweight and comfortable, while still offering BLE – Bluetooth Low Energy – connectivity to link it to its box (the “Viktor Box”). This box connects to both the internet (WiFi, Ethernet or 4G) and the TV. Fingertips has been able to benefit from Orange’s expertise to make it compatible with the 4G Airbox.

To begin with, Alain Tixier was looking to find a solution for his mum, and there was nothing available on the market. Orange and Fingertips spent around a year adapting the product in line with users’ expectations, and have now launched this solution. Following a test phase in stores and specialised care structures, as well as home-based tests, the Viktor cushion is now available in 30 Orange stores across France. An ideal gift for Christmas to maintain social and family connections all year round!

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