The Ily – a communications device for people who don’t like smartphones

Barber and Osgerby consultancy Map has worked with tech start-up Insensi on the Ily – a voice, video and messaging device which aims to bring together family members of all ages and different levels of tech competency.


Map has co-designed a new home communications device which has been created to help family members of all ages and “tech literacy levels” to stay connected.

Ily is a voice, video and messaging product, intended as an alternative to a smartphone. It has been conceived by start-up Insensi, with Map working on product design and user experience.

It features an eight-inch touch-screen, connects to wifi and plugs into a standard telephone cable. There is no connection to a browser which its creators say means children can use it unsupervised.

Calls are made by tapping on a family member’s photo. Children can also send photos from the device or drawings they’ve created on its touchscreen.

Ily Product Shot

Insensi chief executive and founder Ilan Abehassera says that despite families often having several smartphones and tablets the youngest and oldest family members struggle to talk regularly and hardly ever use video or share pictures.

“We struggled with this in our own house. Our children were too young to have unsupervised access to a smartphone and the grandparents were simply less technical.

“That’s why we created Ily. It makes everyday connections effortless, regardless or age, location or tech savviness,” says Abehassera.

Other features include personalising the device with photos and drawings, creating notes like shopping lists and reminders and playing music.


The “family feed” function is a daily record showing which family members are interacting and by what method.

Not everyone has to own the device. It connects with other Ily’s or the Ily app. A family member can connect with their family by downloading the iOS, Android or Ily app onto their phone or tablet.

This also means parents who travel can stay in touch easily if they have the app by dialing in to the home Ily.

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