A rant about the Internet of Things hype.
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Aging in place and market size exaggeration
Look closer at that Semico aging in place projection of $30 billion by 2017. In an article in the Dallas Morning News just a few days ago, the previously noted Semico $30 Billion projection of 'aging in place' (AIP) technology by 2017 was quoted again. Nice number, but what's it for? Taking a closer read, the cited report asserts that “almost 70 percent of the over 120 million unit shipments will come from wellness peripherals like glucose meters, blood pressure monitors and smart scales.” Really? Hang in with me a second. That's 84 million of these 'wellness peripherals' that the population which is aging in place will be buying within 3 years, generating that $30 billion.
By 2017, really? More detail could help...maybe. Just to put a few more specific details from the press release for the Semico report -- "The Administration on Aging claims that consumers adhere to their medication plan 98% of the time when using an in-home automated monitoring system." Really? Actually that number (from a presentation at an Affordable Care Act Webinar sponsored by the AoA) comes from the result of a 2011 grant-funded small pilot conducted through the Center for Technology on Aging (CTA). And in 2014, note the problem of not taking meds is sized as a $300 billion problem -- 50% of people don't take medication as prescribed -- but that medication adherence technology is (still) the next new thing. Well, actually, the physician's role and use of technology is still evolving.
So what technology is included in IoT AIP market? Yay acronyms. From the report itself, "Aging in Place: The Internet of Things for the Golden Years" the devices include: "Remote Health Monitoring Hubs, Oximeters, Hearing Aids, Glucose Meters, Medication Reminders, Scales, Heart Rate Monitors, Safety Alert Bracelets and Smart Patches." The IoT for the golden years, really? Or an extrapolated chunk of the population aged 65+ within the medical device market, most of which is prescribed by doctors. I bet they and the vendors don't imagine those devices are part of something called the 'aging in place' market.
Watch 'aging in place' as it morphs into the 'cliché of the day'. Admittedly, some of the 'aging in place technology' language came from this very website and writing, making it easy to recognize market sizing, uh, enthusiasm. But today, innovators must hang their hats and the hats of their investors on these sizings, and they can be oh, so, slippery. Without a few specifics and examples as to why, seriously, this gizmo/gadget was designed to target older adults, what are the innovators and their prospective investors to think? Following the Semico example, it can be tempting to describe the entire housing industry as 'aging in place' because it is inclusive of houses that are lived in by older adults. But housing marketers know better. And technology marketers should too.