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New smartphone targets elderly nonphone users

The Touch3.
Samsung
The Touch3.

For a significant portion of Americans over the age of 65, smartphones are just another part of a bewildering modern world, too complicated and too counterintuitive to ever understand, let alone use.

To counter that, this past week medical technology and services company GreatCall launched the Touch3, a phone specifically for the portion of the elderly population intimidated by modern tech, said CEO David Inns.

The phone has a simple, user-friendly interface, designed to make it easy for the elderly to access necessary health care and services, and be easily monitored by their family.

The goal is to help the elderly "use technology to stay safe and healthy" and deliver the kind of attentive customer service that these clients typically need, Inns said. Services attached to the phone include sending data about daily activities to family members, notification of emergencies, and 24-hour access to doctors and registered nurses.

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There are roughly 21 million Americans over the age of 65 who are generally uncomfortable with technology, according to GreatCall's research. Of this group, less than 5 percent own a smartphone, Inns said.

A key feature is very high-touch customer service, with employees trained to be experts in the kinds of challenges elderly people face, Inns said.

For example, the company's service reps are put through specific kinds of sensitivity training, including having them wear glasses that simulate glaucoma, and gloves that simulate arthritis, thus better understanding what their clients may be going through.

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For sure, plenty of senior citizens embrace modern technology, said Inns. "We all know someone who's 75 years old and comfortable with an iPhone," he said; the Touch3 phone is for those who aren't.

The Touch3 is built by Samsung, and thus runs on Google's Android. It's priced at $169.99.

—By CNBC's Matt Hunter