Senior Pi

We made the Raspberry Pi to teach kids about computing. Of the 7 million Pis we’ve sold so far, about a third have ended up with kids – the way the maker community took to the Pi was a real surprise to us, as was the enthusiastic response from industrial users.

One of the best reminders that the Raspberry Pi is not just for kids landed in my inbox a couple of weeks back. Meet Senior Pi: a touch-screen customisation of the Raspberry Pi for elderly people.


This isn’t meant to be a full computing experience. Senior Pi is a stripped-down offering, with a few useful tools for keeping informed, staying in contact, and entertainment. Gerald, the maker, created it for his own elderly parents and some other relatives, whose requirements were specific, but are shared with a lot of other older people: there was a need for larger type with high contrast to make reading possible again, along with an audiobook function for when the eyes get tired. One user found it made email possible again, when other apps on tablets and computers had become too hard to use.

It’s hard to overstate how empowering and satisfying a platform like this can be for the user. The system includes a simplified email client, which includes a slide show function: picture attachments are automatically sent to the slide show, so there’s no complicated clicking and fiddly downloading. There’s landline phone support for caller ID (currently for the USA only) with call blocking and one-touch dialling. There’s also:

  • A large button touch pad
  • Large print ebook reader
  • Audio player, which saves the last played location for each file (music, audio books, radio shows)
  • Internet radio
  • Video player
  • Current weather and forecast
  • Cookbook
  • Date and time

Gerald’s intention is for the device to be used by two people: the older person, who will be the end user, and another person who will maintain and support the system, and can also customise it further for the individual user’s needs.

Senior Pi is implemented with Qt Creator C++ code, and bash scripts.  The whole development system and source code is included in the install script, which makes customisation easy.  Gerald says:

The total download is 2.2MB and includes some sample Public Domain pictures, audio, and video. Just download to a USB drive, run the install script, and finish up by customizing some config files for phone numbers, and email contacts.  Done!

All free, no ads, just want to help the elderly.

If you have interest, then look more at our wiki, download the zip file and have fun!

Check out the very comprehensive wiki, and download Senior Pi when you get a moment. We think it’s got real potential to enhance people’s lives.