Post CES reflection on role of technology and Alzheimer's.
Boston, mid-May, 2016
No new technology -- huh? Sometimes ya gotta wonder. Listening on a call to a group of senior housing executives recently, I was intrigued by the comment of one of them: "There isn't any new technology." The context was a rationalization of the technology areas they are currently engaged in (home monitoring, senior communication). I was reminded of that old cliche: "You snooze, you lose." In this as in all technology categories, every day an entrepreneur wakes up and says to themselves, 'I can do that.' I know -- I hear from them. They are reminded somehow of population demographics or they are engaged in the care of their grandparents, or they just walked out of a senior housing community and could not believe how out of touch the management was -- and therefore they would become -- if their parent moved in. Company of the month that I bet the speaker hasn't heard of -- InTouchLink -- software for seniors -- yeah, appropriate for senior housing organizations.
Forbes and the Wall Street Journal. Certainly there is interest from the press in new and enabling tech for an aging population. I spoke today with a reporter from Forbes looking into this category of technology. And the Wall Street Journal spent quite a few inches on robots recently -- Paro, the $6000 toy seal for dementia units. How sad that the labor shortage makes this seem like a good use of money -- instead of $4000 for Cyberdyne's HAL that could reduce the effort to help wheelchair-bound residents or Gecko Systems' CareBot -- a robot that could actually accomplish a few caregiving tasks. My take on robots right now? No rush -- wait for more useful formats, more services, and smart integration with other existing technologies.
What's a boomer care about anyway? I spent some time at a Boomer-focused event in Santa Clara a few weeks ago -- and it makes me mull this so-called category a bit. If you wanted to bring together the vendors that matter to boomers, what's it gonna be? Travel? Food? Medical devices (the business plan competition winners)? Products related to sex (who knew? AARP presented new survey data). I wonder if there is a unified Baby Boomer market? I know, there's an age range that SOUNDS like a demographic. But do 46-year-olds and 64-year-olds having anything in common besides fitting into the age range? What can a marketer do with this information? Color me skeptical.