Engineer invents 'grannygram' machine that prints out WhatsApps for his 93-year-old grandmother

·2-min read
The ingenious device uses basic technology so the family can send Ludi texts and photos - Twitter
The ingenious device uses basic technology so the family can send Ludi texts and photos - Twitter

A Spanish engineer has invented a simple "grannygram" machine that prints out WhatsApp messages and photos to make it easier for his technophobic grandmother to keep up to date with family news while in quarantine.

Ludi, 93, does not have a mobile phone and lives in a rural town hundreds of miles away from her family.

Worried that she was struggling with loneliness as she shielded from Covid for the second Christmas in a row, her grandson Guido García decided to design a low-tech alternative to a smartphone.

“She doesn’t want any hassle; no WiFi, no mobile phone,” said Mr García.

So the telecommunications engineer built a machine that fitted inside an empty strawberry box to automatically receive and print out posts from messaging platforms and social media.

The homemade machine is inside a strawberry box - Twitter
The homemade machine is inside a strawberry box - Twitter
The machine can print pictures and text messages - Twitter
The machine can print pictures and text messages - Twitter
The device helps Ludi receive family updates without having to have a mobile phone - Twitter
The device helps Ludi receive family updates without having to have a mobile phone - Twitter


In a viral Twitter thread that gained more than 10,000 likes and retweets, Mr García explained how he made his “contraption” out of a receipt printer, a Raspberry Pi mini-computer and a SIM card, creating it over the space of a few days over Christmas.

“The plan was to devote little time to it (around 20 hours) and that it could be ready to go once plugged in with no maintenance," he said.

It relies on a bot he created in social messaging app Telegram that receives messages and gives a command to print.

Ludi will soon be able to get pictures and texts simply by turning the machine on – once Mr García has managed to make the 200-mile trip from Valladolid to her home in the Basque Country town of Basauri to deliver it.

He said he was quite happy with the quality of the black-and-white photographs, but would like to make a more elegant 3D-printed casing next time around.

The device is a simplification of a similar device invented last year by another Spanish engineer, Manuel Lucio, for his grandmother. Named the “grannygram”, it allows its user to record their voice and convert it into a text message for the family chat account.

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