Helping families and caregivers connect and care for the elderly wherever they’re at - across mobile, web, and desktop.
DayClocks helps families and caregivers connect and care for the elderly wherever they’re at - across mobile, web, and desktop.
Using the DayClock picture frame - a type of “digital dementia clock” - users can send personal messages, photos, and calendar appointments, initiate video calls, and more to their elders. When not actively used, the tablet-like device (designed like a photo frame) displays the time, date, calendar, and weather to reduce confusion. Family and caregivers use the DayClocks Agenda companion app (built with Ionic Angular and Capacitor and available on the web, iOS, and Android) to post messages and control the frame.
The Ionic team recently spoke with Henk Jurriens, developer and co-founder, to learn more about how the DayClocks team is making a difference for families.
A personal need sparks an app idea
Like many great apps before it, DayClocks was born from a simple question from Henk Jurriens’ neighbor Marcel in 2014, who wanted a better way to care for his elderly mother: “Can you turn my idea into an app?”
The idea was to build upon the concept of the Day Clock, a special clock for people with dementia that shows both the time and date. The goal was to create a modern digital-based experience combining hardware and software. The DayClock picture frame would not only display a clock but lots of other helpful features such as the time of day (morning, afternoon, night). Elderly caregivers would use a website and/or mobile app to enter daily activities and send messages and photos to their loved ones.
The Challenge: Small Team, Big Goal
In order to determine if they had a solid business idea on their hands, Henk and Marcel would need to verify product interest as quickly and easily as possible by building and testing a prototype. So, they bought a few tablets and got to work creating the first version of the DayClocks app (a native Android app), as well as a website and a dashboard for managing the DayClocks caregiver experience.
When their app prototype was ready, they showed off DayClocks to attendees at an exhibition showcasing helpful products for the elderly. After initial interviews and reactions were very positive, they both felt that they were on the right track.
They kept iterating on the idea and in 2016, realized that if they were to reach as many users as possible, they needed to go beyond what a simple website would offer. That meant revamping the web experience and expanding onto the iOS platform. Henk had some native mobile programming experience but knew that becoming proficient in both mobile development platforms’ languages, paradigms, and SDKs was a massive time commitment and thus not ideal as the sole developer.
Fortunately, he already had experience building Ionic apps, having previously built one for another company. Being a small team, the ability to manage an app built on one codebase deployable to the web and mobile was incredibly compelling. Henk got to work and in no time, launched the DayClocks Agenda app on iOS and Android.
Embracing a web-first approach with Capacitor
DayClocks Agenda was originally built with Cordova to manage the native mobile app versions, but the team quickly moved to Capacitor after integrating push notifications into the Agenda app in only one day. As with Cordova, they were able to use the same codebase for the web and mobile apps, but the improved developer experience and flexibility that Capacitor offers on the native side was compelling. In practice, it’s the DayClocks customers that are benefited: those who can’t use a mobile device to post updates can use a desktop or laptop computer instead, using a familiar interface no matter what platform they access the Agenda app on.
Developer productivity is also a huge factor in the team’s decision to build with Capacitor. Building with web technology and Capacitor not only allows the DayClocks team to build with just one codebase, it gives them complete access to any and all native functionality they could need. In this case, having complete control over the native projects enables such features as sending push notifications to alert elders that family members will be calling them soon, using the camera to take and send photos, and on-demand video chat. Additionally, Capacitor enables the DayClock app to run as a dedicated experience, starting up automatically when the device is turned on.
Overall, they are able to offer a superior customer experience. Since the DayClock device is custom tablet hardware that runs a full-screen Android app, the team needed a way to update the app easily, outside of the traditional app store mechanisms. They designed a frictionless update process for customers. After the device has been restarted, the DayClock prompts the user to update to the newest version of the native app.
The Future is Bright
The DayClocks digital clock and apps have been a hit! The team, based in The Netherlands, has recently expanded distribution into Germany and Belgium (English site here), with more countries to come. In 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, they introduced video conferencing (powered by Google Duo) that lets the elderly communicate with their family in a simple, streamlined fashion. In 2021, they partnered with e-commerce company Simplefly to help improve their e-commerce business.
What’s next for DayClocks on the software side? The team aims to convert the DayClocks tablet app, currently a native Android app, into a Capacitor-powered Android app.
Congrats to Henk and Marcel - the Ionic team wishes them more future success! 🚀🚀🚀