Emerging Technology

Internet calls made easier… Family-friendlier holidays… Aged-care franchises expand… Vespas scoot to billboard leadership

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Internet calls made easier

If you like the idea of making cheap phone calls over the internet using VoIP, but are technology-challenged, MagicJack could be for you, Ohgizmo reports.

MagicJack subscribers plug a small USB device, a dongle, into their computer and plug an ordinary phone into the device. The dongle takes 60 seconds to auto-install the calling software and you’re ready to go.

The MagicJack is only available in a beta format at the moment; the official US launch is due next month. OhGizmo says that on release it will cost $US29–39, which includes the jack and a year’s subscription to the service, after which it costs $US19 a year. That’s more expensive than the likes of Skype, but for some the ease of use may be worth it.

Family-friendlier holidays

Going out for dinner with the kids can be a bit of a struggle; a day trip — well, that’s even more challenging. Travelling with the little tackers would test the patience of an angel.

New US online start-up Parentography has listened to parents’ anguish and come up with a site that helps parents find family-friendly accommodation, restaurants and activities for their next holiday, Springwise says.

The best thing about Parentography is that is driven by parent contributions, giving the reader a more authentic insight into the kid-friendliness of reviewed venues or activities. Parents can also upload pictures and video content.

Aged care franchises expand

Franchise observers have long been saying that healthcare is the next fragmented industry ripe for franchising. The reality is starting to catch up.

A new Australian franchise for home-care services, Just Better Care based in NSW, runs seven franchises and plans to add 53 within three years. It offers similar services to US franchise Home Instead Senior Care, which has 700 franchises in 11 countries. In Australia, the chain has three franchises in Brisbane and one in Sydney, run by master franchisee Martin Warner. Warner says two more offices will be opened in Sydney in May and he expects to have 90 within 10 years.

The private franchised services are focused on providing services not offered by government-funded aged care agencies. Warner says he provides 24-hour care, ad hoc care on short notice and long-term care, if required: “We focus on the relationship, not the task.”

Vespas make good advertising billboards

Outdoor media company Media V has successfully tapped into a new market for scooter-towed billboards, reports Mediaweek.

Media V, established in 2002, has 30 vehicles towing advertisements for big corporations including Telstra, Pepsi, Fairfax, NRMA and Vodafone. Roy Morgan Research has found that among 13 different types of outdoor advertising, the Vespa scooters are the most recognised in Sydney and Brisbane.

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