A not-so-complimentary NY Times hands-on review of the AARP RealPad.
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Four elements of tech reimagined
My brain hurts. AARP is hosting an upcoming innovation competition for their Life@50+ event in New Orleans – and they are soliciting entrepreneurs: 'LivePitch pitch event participants will be focused on consumer-oriented health technologies for the "50 and over" market.' So what IS a consumer-oriented health technology for the 50+ that is not also a consumer-oriented health technology for the under-50? In fact, 50 is an arbitrary dividing line for AARP based on its stated mission – someday that may be re-stated as the 40+, or more sensibly, with our lengthening life expectancies and lengthening work lives (see new LinkedIn partnership called 'Work Reimagined'), maybe it will be the 60+ or the 70+. Or multiple AARPs – as there are today that are based on language and geography. There’s a reason AARP is not spelled out to include ‘retired persons.’
So in the spirit of reimagining – let’s consider technology. Technology is a broad term – when I think of it, I stumble around from phones, tablets, computers, to sensors, health tech/apps, to banking apps, socializing software, to…well that’s a problem. There is so much tech, it’s hard to imagine it, and re-imagining it is truly tiresome. But it’s feasible with examples to see how it can and will improve. Take the mobile banking app I tried yesterday – enabling me to photograph a check with my phone and deposit it in the bank without driving there. First of all, the Bank of America wants me to figure out how to use it -- imagine the paper storage and labor savings! They provide a YouTube video, a Getting Started page, answers to common questions – and once downloaded, one of the simpler pictorial interfaces I have seen – a box with a simple instruction (fit the image of the front of the check in here). So one element of tech reimagined is migrating the user interface to be much more graphical than it is – for contrast, check out the website to register to view your social security earnings to date.
Pictorial or just a few words. Now launch Google NAV – the first command offered is to speak or type your destination. How nice to have a choice if you have ever tried to speak words like Canandaigua or Skaneateles as locations, much less speak with a drawl or accent. Time will improve voice interactions -- but I wish Google and Siri lots of luck. I can also see why Facebook is currently in such a mobile pressure cooker right now -- watching its app load on my phone is a bit like watching paint peel. So to capabilities that are pictorial and/or have just a few words, let’s add adaptive to the viewer’s device – recognizing and switching easily from big footprint to small screen spaces without asking you, ‘download the mobile version now???’
Pictorial, few words, adapts to device and better battery use! While we’re at it, let’s figure out better battery management, taking or licensing the best from the best – days of battery charge for some phones versus 5-6 hours on a Droid 2, although at least the battery can be removed and replaced! Less than a day with non-removable batteries? Come on! Watch iPad users crawling around airport floors fighting over outlets. Okay, that’s enough for me. Tech reimagined is pictorial, word-spare, device-adaptive, and maximizes battery use. If you have other suggestions, you are welcome to post them here. I can assure you that they will be forwarded to my contacts at AARP.