September 2013

Trending again – Technology for aging in place

What goes around comes around and gets a new market sizing. You may have seen a rather giddy press release recently that sized the market for aging in place technology at a cool $30 billion by 2017.  The global market for elder care technologies will hit $7.2 billion by 2018 and as for home monitoring of seniors, the number of units of wearable wireless devices will climb from 3 million units (2011) to 36 million units by 2017, and users of family locator services (including PERS) will reach 70 million by 2016. It’s a good thing these sizings forecast three to four years from now. That will give everyone time to overcome barriers that hamstring utilization today -- like controlling the cost of device, figuring out who pays for them and will the target user actually be able to afford to use it/wear it to help them stay safe or will the doctor and supporting staff remain engaged to help the user keep their chronic disease(s) under control? >>> Read more . . .

Ten events for your health, boomer or senior product or service

Finding the visibility and network that your offering deserves.  We are entering the trade show season, so it’s time to make a few go/no go decisions. You have had your product (or new version) or service ready for the past months or year. Your pilots have been successful and you now know that professionals, prospects and early customers are pleased with what you’ve done. You’ve read Ten Tips for Launching a Product or Service. You have first focused on the local/regional events. Now make sure your offering – whether it is caregiving, health and wellness, home safety, learning, engagement or just plain fun – is well-received at events attended by prospective customers, resellers, referring professionals, possible partners, and adjacent product categories.  Consider this list of national events (listed in date order). Study prior exhibitor participant lists, learn about typical number and profile of attendees, booth costs, hotel and attendance fees. Note any (of many) innovation award opportunities, if not now, then for the future. If you are not that familiar with any of these, consider going once as an attendee -- before exhibiting. Comments about other events are, of course, welcome: >>> Read more . . .

Tracking us online and on the go is making us nervous

Isn’t it cool that all of our technology knows us and our location? It’s a widening and wonderful tech world isn’t it? We are blessed with video and the web on our smart phones; social connections all around are endorsing and Linking us In. Best of all we can speak and ask our device stupid questions -- and get specific and even charming location-based answers. Siri, tell me,what is Pi to 500 places? That was easy, but how many miles (kilometers, inches) is it to Miami? How long will it take if I’m walking from where I am standing in Washington, DC? Unlike Trivial Pursuit -- where knowing the answer matters -- with our fabulous devices all you need is the question. And because your phone is on, your starting point is wherever you are RIGHT NOW. >>> Read more . . .

Do contests propel innovation in an industry that lacks infrastructure?

Incubators and contests -- do they enable innovation?  Paul Krugman's interesting article about GE’s competition to find a new design raises a question about how to boost innovation and lower its cost. If you read the article, entitled 'Complexity is Free' – you will discover how a simple contest, fielded internationally, generated a design improvement at almost no cost for GE: "The winning prize pool [was] $20,000, spread out across 8 finalists, with awards ranging from $1,000 to $7,000 each." So for $20K, GE got something it wanted, layered that something into a design process that enables continuous revision to designs without new infrastructure investment (the 'free' in the title.) Does anyone else find it interesting that there was no internal engineer who could figure out how to design a lighter-weight bracket component -- and that a contest was required? Or was this a publicity stunt to generate good will for GE?  >>> Read more . . .

Four Recent Technologies for Aging in Place - Sept 2013

Rounding up the recent technology launches – tech for older adults.  Catching up, here are few recent announcements from in-market companies.  A brief digression: I get a bit upset when I read about companies in the news that are  described as offering "SOLUTIONS" about products that are not ready, products for which they could be taking pre-orders, but basically there is nothing to buy. This is especially unfortunate in the category of PERS, where consumers expect a solution can address a fear of falling and being left alone. It is especially NOT okay for products that target the senior housing industry, where the residents may be very frail, where the companies are very cautious, and the industry is not known for leading with tech of any type, let alone one that is so new that it cannot be purchased.  So here are four new offerings – it is my belief/hope that all are available -- preventing a few others from being on the list. Content is from the vendors’ press information: >>> Read more . . .

The Wireless Health market is ginormous -- so forecasters say

Our bodies, our forecasts.  It's exciting. Mythical John X Wannabe will soon go to market with a wearable device – the “XLife Preserver” – designed to lower hospital costs, improve health, and entertain. It looks a bit like a Fitbit and mini television combined, and is worn clipped to a waist band or belt. It beeps every time a vehicle John is driving exceeds the lowest-available regional speed limit. It chirps when John steps off the curb to cross the street, screeches when John’s shoes are untied, and mumbles "Uh, oh" when he forgets to eat breakfast. When no one is looking, he can even unclip it and watch past episodes of House of Cards, read his e-mail, or check into Foursquare. >>> Read more . . .

Can someone do this -- make a usable smart phone for seniors?

Two phones in the news today attempt to boost smartphone ownership among seniors.  Pew’s most recent smartphone utilization among the 65+ market in the US is still below 20%. There are two new entrants which -- on the surface -- seem unlikely to help. One of them is sold only in Japan and the other crashed during a test published in today's Wall Street Journal. For the former, the New York Times noted that the Fujitsu Raku-Raku ("easy easy") cell phone sold 20 million handsets in Japan over the past decade, with 10 million of them still in use. In partnership with telecom provider Orange, the company will introduce the Fujitsu Stylistic S01 smartphone into France – its first attempt to export outside of Japan -- and so far not available in the US market. This Raku-Raku smartphone handset has features that US manufacturers should adopt – firmer press required to select a dialing digit, brightening the screen for use in sunlight, a button to text GPS coordinates to get help, and (imagine that!) training on how to use the phones. Meanwhile, Doro has sold 4 million of its feature phone senior handsets and will soon offer more smartphones. >>> Read more . . .

When we're 84 -- considering the AARP Care Gap research

AARP’s Care Gap report sets the table for innovation possibilities.  Driven purely by population changes over the next several decades, AARP predicts that there will be fewer people in the age group (45-64) that can provide care to the baby boomer population when aged 80+.  Based on this model, says the report, boomers at that age will likely have various disabilities and thus may need some level of care. What technology categories would be useful and likely in-market with this multi-year lead time to think about them?  Of course, today there are millions of people who are 80+, but if you follow AARP’s logic, today there seem to be enough available family members, home care, nursing home and assisted living aides between the ages of 45 and 64 to care for them (emphasis on available). If caregiving availability shrinks, what are the technology implications for those who would serve that future wave of baby boomers? >>> Read more . . .