January 2012

Aging in Place Technology Watch January 2012 Newsletter

Tech for xHealth versus tech for seniors.  How odd, you say, why are these two categories in opposition to each other?  Of course everyone knows that the purpose of xHealth categories (mHealth and its various e-, Digital, Connected, 2.0, Unbound and other wireless variants) are to serve the older adults who have the chronic diseases that the new categories target, right? Ha. This is the ironic discontinuity of our technology times – at the moment that seniors adopt the Internet in notable numbers, the health innovators, nudged by their angel investors and VC backers will have moved to tablets and smart phones. The user they envision? He is a quantified and young self, busy and largely self-absorbed, except for bragging rights (my steps! my heart rate!) uploaded and online. By the time seniors (today’s boomers) get to swiping-and-touching tablets and smarter phones, wearables will make the Fitbit look like an IBM mainframe. For those of you who believe that the xHealths above think about seniors as they design and demo their apps, take a look at the linked exhibitors lists above. Then think about the rising costs of health care, incurred by the oldest in our society. How like the tech industry to offer technologies in search of a user standing just out of the developer’s visual field of view. >>> Read more . . .

Senior-friendly tech as seen dashing through the show (CES in one 6-mile Fitbit day)

Purrfect Pet. The PARO therapeutic robot is a pretty darn cool contraption. Shaped like a stuffed furry baby seal, it has five kinds of sensors built into itself: tactile, light, sound, temperature and posture. PARO’s sensors can “feel” being stroked or being held. It can also recognize the direction of voice and words such as its name. It moves, looks at you, blinks and closes its eyes, purrs and other pet-like actions and it is supposed to learn your desires and behave appropriately over time. >>> Read more . . .

Why aren't seniors wowed by tablets?

Are seniors missing the tablet and e-Reader boomlet? Las Vegas can rest now. It has been left to its own devices, so to speak, now that CES has left town for another year. Exhibitors, never original, seized on swipe and touch trends started by Apple -- reports from the show noted that 'Android tablets have sprung up around CES like worms after a rainstorm' and how many types will be sitting in stores in 2012. So why don't seniors want to buy them? Pew Research published a glowingly titled doc recently titled Tablets and e-Reader Ownership Nearly Double Over the Holiday Gift-Giving Period and headlined that 'overall at least 29% of Americans own at least one of them.'  And the 50-64 year-olds did show a significant increase in tablet ownership from December 2011-2012 -- from 8-15%. But as the Pew data shows, the 65+ are not flocking to the store to pick up a tablet-- a mere increase from 5 to 7%. Maritz did some profiling the younger folk: the average tablet buyer is aged 38-41, with an income of approximately $70K, tablet buyers are likely to be male. Older women seem to like the e-Reader more, with ownership jumping from 8-12% year over year, average e-book buying woman is aged 44. So what's the, er, story here? >>> Read more . . .

Ten Technologies from CES 2012

Just in case you thought you ran into me -- I wasn't there. But I got a kick out of Wayne Caswell's CES in Pajamas blog post, David Pogue's Sampling the Future of Gadgetry (wow, it really is a showcase for "tablets, thin TV screens, superthin laptops and Android phones") and then there were the 25 robots -- three of which were related to healthcare. So that led me to plow through more 'zone lists' and offer a paragraph about each of ten companies/products from A to Z that are recent/new to me -- and may be new to you. The link goes to their website, the text is theirs: >>> Read more . . .

When agencies save paper, seniors lose

Everybody wants to save paper -- but for some, it's optional.  My long-time love-it, hate-it bank enables those online to replace printed statements with statements that are viewable.  They encourage online access, but don't require it. In fact, many make quite an effort to save our governments from printing too much, and many more are on a mission to save those trees and be oh-so-green ('paperless at home' and Save Our Trees). So what other organizations will follow the examples of the Social Security Administration and most recently the Treasury Department? Financial services and banks have been pushing the go-paperless rock up hill for years, but it is always optional for the consumer. There has been some success (possibly due to the economy): paper consumption has, in fact, fallen a bit from 2010 to 2011. But the Treasury's mandate that Savings Bonds can only be purchased online is an ominous warning to the sizable senior population that still is not using the Internet - 42% of the 65+ are online, according to Pew Research, but only 30% of the 'GI Generation', those aged 74+, are online. No savings bond buying for them. >>> Read more . . .

Age friendliness -- sounds good, where is it?

Not to be a spoilsport…but 'age-friendly cities' aren’t. US News Money ran an article this week about ‘aging in place’ – what a great idea, but…  Adding the 'but' is a correct assessment -- senior-friendly communities don’t really resonate as two words in the same sentence, although I suppose that is depending on whether you are imagining a young-aged (in either age or demeanor) senior. The AARP-sponsored state-by-state study cited underpins the issues, particularly with transportation. But what really struck me: "Of Americans over age 65, 21 percent do not drive," the report said. "This reduced mobility has a direct and often debilitating effect on older Americans' independence. More than 50 percent of non-drivers over age 65 normally do not leave home most days, partly because of a lack of transportation options." So let’s count that up, shall we? With 40 million aged 65+, 8.4 million of them are non-drivers, 4.2 million not leaving the home most days because of a lack of transportation. What are these people doing in their homes? Who sees them? How age-friendly is that? >>> Read more . . .

A Silver Field of Dreams

Las Vegas demographic dreaming. Today’s Silvers Summit at the International CES was an exercise in demographics — is it really fair to say that boomer and beyond is a market segment? Even to a novice, it must seem rather silly to clump everyone 45 and older as a buying segment.  Marty Cooper (whose tweets can be followed: @martymobile) wisely pointed out midday that demographics do not define a market. >>> Read more . . .

5 prerequisites to sustaining a good business idea

Business ideas sound good -- but are they sustainable? The world's most tech-hopeful event kicks off this week -- that would be CES, for those not in the industry. As a tech veteran, I have been to so many of these types of shows over the years, where the floor is chock full of caffeine and confidence, clever demos, looping videos, bubbling marketers and blaring televisions. But with 149,000 attendees and multiple shows within a show, I am again reminded that in the world of startups, even those launching from inside giant companies, that 90% will eventually fail. >>> Read more . . .

2012 -- 10 Updated Tips for launching a product or service

This post first appeared in late 2010 prior to CES -- with CES coming up next week, given the last year of launches, again let's remind new product and service vendors of what they need to do to launch properly.

So you want to launch a boomer/senior, home health tech, etc product or service.  It's getting to be that time of year for launches and the press that accompanies them. This year, as always there are many vendors that have or will have new products and services or enhanced capabilities -- and want to get attention, prowling the vast aisles of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in search of possible channel partners, media attention and a list of who is in their space. In conjunction with that event, perhaps they will 'officially' launch. Or perhaps an existing company will officially launch a new product or service. Here is a checklist as derived from recent encounters and discussions: >>> Read more . . .