First of all, a shameless plug: If you don’t have The Good News Network bookmarked, do so immediately. As opposed to most of the other online news aggregators that sell us fabricated outrage and unfounded fear and Miley Cyrus, The Good News Network is a place where you can go to read about all the wonderful things that thoughtful, brilliant, caring people are doing to make the world a slightly better place than it was when they found it.
That’s where we came across the story of Charlie and Maria Girsch, two grandparents who developed the iPad app FamZoom. The Girsches have six children and eight grandchildren scattered across the country, and they were looking for a way to better stay in touch with their family that was cheaper than long distance phone calls and more interactive and engaging than Skype. The result was an app that takes the stereotype of doddering technophobe retirees and chucks it promptly out the window.
The FamZoom app itself does what many successful apps do: that is, it cherry-picks the features of a few other apps and brings them all together to create something entirely new. With FamZoom, family members can interact with one another from just about anywhere, playing games, reading, shopping, and having a video chat, all at the same time, thus demonstrating that iPads can be used for multitasking once innovative developers put their mind it. If one of the users does something on their iPad, that action is instantly mirrored on the other, so a loving grandmother in New York can read a story or play a puzzle game with a grandchild in California without missing a beat.
And if your heart is not yet as warm as it could be, we should also mention that the Girsches have thought ahead and considered other applications for their mobile app. That is, in addition to bringing families closer together, it will also be a boon to hospitalized children whose family and friends might not be able to make it to visiting hours. That’s why the Girsches teamed up with the Ronald McDonald House to raise funds to buy iPads for donation to sick children in Denver and Tampa, and if that works out, they’ll take the campaign nationwide.