Accessible Innovation: How Defigo Creates Solutions for Everyone

Defigo develops accessible entry systems with universal design to meet the needs of various user groups, including the elderly and people with disabilities. These solutions support legislation on equality and universal design, and do not require the use of smartphones or apps.

Defigo is founded on the principle: it must work for everyone.

Since the beginning, we have kept this in mind as we developed our services and products. There are two reasons why this has been a focus: Firstly, it is crucial (both for our customers and us as technology and service providers) to ensure that everyone feels safe, and that their lives are not limited or restricted by the solutions that we develop and deliver. And secondly, it is simply good business, both for society and for us as a company.

There are many groups in the population who require technology to be adapted for them to be able to use it. The elderly are the largest group. In fact, more than 10% of all apartments in Norway are defined as senior housing where the residents need assistance to continue living at home. This percentage is set to increase significantly in the coming years. Our experience shows that 10-15% of users in an apartment block, for various reasons, cannot use a smartphone and are unable to download an app, a concept which can be difficult to many elderly people. It should also be noted that no one uses the intercom system as actively as the elderly.
Other groups that require adapted technology include the visually impaired, hearing impaired, children, groups with various somatic disabilities, and groups with comparable cognitive or psychological challenges. Unadapted technology can be extremely difficult for any of these groups to use. 

Joachim Stray, Defigo founder and Chief Product Officer

In Norway and the Western world in general, this is anchored in various laws and regulations. Universal Design aims to set requirements and help suppliers and developers understand the existing user needs and how best to meet them. The term "no one shall be left out" originally comes from the UN as a guideline for the development of society in general, and this is also embodied in universal design, which states that solutions should "be usable and accessible for people with varying abilities."

The Law on Equality and the Prohibition of Discrimination applies to housing cooperatives and businesses; the law states that it is not permissible to discriminate against anyone. The solutions that are established must consider all user groups, regardless of age, disability, pregnancy, caregiving duties, or other circumstances.

At Defigo, we have, on many occasions, assisted customers who have been in conflict with users, special associations, or other groups that have challenges using digital systems. These have been real legal conflicts where our customers have been threatened with lawsuits if they do not take measures to better accommodate the specific user or group. The risk of legal repercussions is significant when implementing systems that are not well-thought-out, and our experience is that the interest organizations representing these groups are more than willing to fight for the cause.

So what has Defigo done to support these user groups?

All functions, user interfaces, and hardware are built with universal design as the cornerstone. This means, we have incorporated a whole range of features and options that are tailored to the needs of different groups. Over the past three years, we have carried out a project financed by SmartOslo - Oslo Municipality's innovation hub where the purpose has been to develop an intercom system tailored to elderly users and users with dementia. This project has been carried out with very positive feedback from both Oslo Municipality and the users who have received the solution.

Among the measures we have implemented are Defigo Elite and the doorbell panel.

Defigo Elite

Defigo Elite is a custom-tailored intercom unit built for inside the apartment. 

  • The intercom is remotely controlled by the building's administrator.
  • The volume can be increased to be very loud.
  • There is a solution for hearing aids.
  • A special light horn can be used to alert hearing-impaired users about calls.
  • The user interface can be customized for each resident from the simplest - a large button with no settings - to a slightly richer level of functionality.
  • A special solution that converts touch screens into buttons for users who are unable to use touch screens. 

Doorbell Panel

  • Features a screen with good contrast and brightness, and an audio system that enables hearing impaired users to use it.
  • Support for visually impaired users and those who are unable to use a touchscreen, similar to what we have on the intercom.
  • An interface that simulates buttons and makes it recognizable for users.
  • In the future, the panel will receive several new features such as voice control, support for package and service deliveries, access for temporary users via QR code, and a wide range of other functions for both the average user and those who require more assistance.

You do not need an app to use Defigo; it is entirely possible to receive visitors with a regular - "Doro" phone, and in fact, over 10% of our users do not use an app today. Furthermore, one can gain access to the building by using access cards or keyfobs instead of a smartphone.

These are some of the most important things we do.

In addition, there are thousands of elements from the choice of fonts, button sizes, colors and contrasts, sound levels, and icon designs that are carefully selected so that Defigo can be used by everyone.

Several players in the industry offer intercom functions based on a QR code. Although these can be convenient for regular users, they require that one has a regular intercom in addition. Already by the fact that it requires users to have a smartphone to use the system, it is in violation of both universal design and the Law on Equality and Prohibition of Discrimination. Elderly users will not be able to use an app either to receive visitors or to visit someone, and the solution also does not accommodate other groups such as the visually impaired, hearing impaired, or those with somatic or cognitive challenges.

There is also an important question about the legality of requiring users to provide personal information to use an intercom beyond what has been usual in a classic solution, which we have continued in Defigo.

In our journey with Defigo, we have learned the value of listening to and understanding the various needs that our users have. This has not only shaped our products but also strengthened our conviction to continue innovating. We are committed to exploring new solutions that can strengthen the community and promote inclusion, and we hope you will join us on this journey towards a more accessible future.


Read more about Defigo Elite here.

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