Some people are quite happy that because of the pandemic, it is acceptable not to go out of the house for weeks and just not to talk to people. However, not being able to see close friends and family members is really hard, because you want to keep yourself and them safe, but at the same time, you miss them too. It is especially hard to keep in touch with the older relatives, because maybe not all of them have internet or can use smartphones and until now, it wasn’t a problem because you just could turn up on their doorstep.

Software engineer Manuel Lucio Dallo visits his grandma often, but because of COVID-19 movement restrictions, other grandchildren who live further away can’t do that. His grandma has hearing problems, so using the phone to communicate can be hard. That is why Manuel created the Yayagram—an easy-to-use device that sends out voice messages and prints out received answers.

More info: twitter.com

A software engineer built a communicating device for his grandma so she could talk to her family more often during lockdown

Image credits: mrcatacroquer

Manuel Lucio Dallo works for Plastic SCM and he is charge of the customer support area. However, prior to that, he worked as a software engineer as he studied programming and computer management at university. His granny’s name is Felisa Romano Martin and she is 96 years old.

Manuel used his knowledge to create a special device for his grandma, so they and other grandchildren could talk to her more often because a lot of them don’t live in the same city and they can’t visit her because of the restrictions.

He called the contraption Yayagram and shared how it works and how it was made on his Twitter account. The thread got over 10k likes and people were just loving this idea and the care of the ‘Inventive Grandson’ (that is how Manuel introduces himself on his account).

He called the device Yayagram for “Yaya,” a Castilian word meaning “granny” and “Telegram,” a messaging app

Image credits: mrcatacroquer

Firstly Manuel explains the meaning behind the name of the device and it’s just so adorable. So “yaya” is an endearing term for “granny” in Castilian, a specific variety of Spanish spoken in north and central Spain. And the “gram” part comes from the name of the app “Telegram,” which the inventor uses to message.

The device records and sends voice messages and receives and prints written messages

Image credits: mrcatacroquer

Image credits: mrcatacroquer

The receiver gets a regular voice message to their phones when it’s recorded on the telegram device

Image credits: mrcatacroquer

Image credits: mrcatacroquer

The functions of the Yayagram are to send voice messages and to receive printed messages via Telegram. To send a message, grandma Felisa chooses who she wants to connect with and inserts a jack connector into the port with the corresponding name.

Then, to record the message, the grandma has to press the button and hold it until she finishes speaking. Upon releasing the button, the message is sent and the grandchild will receive it to their Telegram app.

The device can receive only text messages, so when the grandchildren respond, the granny will get it printed on thermal paper and can read it like an old telegram, which, honestly, sounds really cool and fun. Everything is designed to be simple to use and convenient to the beloved grandma.

Image credits: mrcatacroquer

The essential parts of the machine are a Raspberry Pi 4, Python code, and libraries

Image credits: mrcatacroquer

Image credits: mrcatacroquer

Then Manuel gets into the more technical details. He says he put some LED lights to indicate when the Yayagram is receiving power, when it’s connected to Telegram, and when it’s recording a message.

The base is the Raspberry Pi 4 computer, running on the programming language Python to make the device receive and send messages as well as to monitor the Yayagram status. The software engineer used several third-party software libraries to tie everything together. The box also contains analog, jack connectors, LEDs, cables, a printer, an inexpensive microphone, and a button.

Image credits: mrcatacroquer

The Twitter thread details the creation process so well that people who understand it could make a device of their own. Manuel has some advice to prevent others from making the same mistake he did: “Do not solder directly to the rasp pins. You can break it. Build a connector instead.”

If someone also has a granny that can’t use the phone, or like Manuel’s Yaya, suffers from arthritis and can’t use a keyboard on a tablet, this may be a possible solution to be able to communicate more often.

Image credits: mrcatacroquer

The grandma has hearing problems, so it’s hard to use a phone, and she has arthritis; that is why messaging by typing is not a good option

Image credits: mrcatacroquer

The idea of the machine came when, because of the movement restrictions, the family couldn’t visit and they couldn’t call each other

Image credits: mrcatacroquer

Image credits: mrcatacroquer

Manuel’s granny has hearing problems, so she can’t really use a phone. She lives with Manuel’s parents and they have to take and make the calls for her. Because of the hearing problems, video calls aren’t a better solution either. Also, she has arthritis, so typing would be a tiring task, so texting flies out of the window too. A lot of the family lives in other cities and because of the lockdown, they can’t visit. It made it really difficult for grandma Felisa to freely communicate with her grandchildren.

The device her grandson made will enable her to be more independent and talk to her family whenever she wants, without any need for help as she only has to put the plug into the port, push the button, and speak. The answer comes on a piece of paper, so her hearing problems don’t matter in this case.

Granny Felisa is 96 years old and very loved by her grandson

Image credits: mrcatacroquer

Image credits: mrcatacroquer

Manuel shared not only the technical details of the building process, but also plenty of photos to visualize how everything works

Image credits: mrcatacroquer

Image credits: mrcatacroquer

Image credits: twitter.com

Manuel promised to publish an Instructables project so that anyone who thinks that this device would be useful for someone they know could build it themselves.

People were amazed by the man’s creativity and care for his grandma. While the device is surely fantastic and you would need knowledge and skills to come up with a working design, what makes the heart go all fuzzy is that he made it for his grandma to enable her to independently keep in touch with her family members because of all the problems she has and because of the movement restrictions due to the pandemic.

Image credits: mrcatacroquer

Image credits: mrcatacroquer

Image credits: mrcatacroquer

This was not a case of when an older person doesn’t get new technology or doesn’t want to use it. In fact, statistics show that the percentage of adults ages 65 and up who own smartphones has risen 24 percentage points (from 18% to 42%) since 2013; moreover, for example, in the UK, 32% of people aged over 75 have a social media account.

In this particular situation, the grandma had some special needs and the grandson made sure that device was easy to use specially for her.

Image credits: mrcatacroquer

Image credits: mrcatacroquer

Image credits: mrcatacroquer

In one of the responses to comments, Manuel said that his Yaya didn’t really understand the push button, so he will work on that, but the jacks didn’t cause any confusion at all.

In another response, he mentioned that not only did he work on the functionality of the device, but that he wanted it to look old-fashioned, like a mini version of a telephone switchboard.

Do you think it’s a cool idea? Would you like to build something similar yourself for fun or for someone who needs it? Let us know what you think about this story in the comments!