Laurie Orlov's blog

Why would the consumer buy a smartphone PERS app from Philips?

Philips Lifeline has had, to say the least, an unusual week. First they launch a smartphone PERS application that makes no sense.   The press release quotes the Philips/Georgetown GSEI study that repeats that tiresome cliché that "seniors want to stay as independent as possible as they get older" -- really, no kidding. Therefore smartphone-enabled seniors would want this $13.95/month service. Since they put out a press release and sought media attention with this app, it is safe to say that want us to know about it. And in volume, this would be a nice incremental revenue stream and another use of their highly trained call center reps.  But what volume? 19% of the 65+ population owns a smartphone -- that's a market of 8 million people.  But two-thirds of adults with smartphones download no apps -- using only those which came with the phone.  Now we're down to 2.8 million in an available market. >>> Read more . . .

Five new Technologies for Aging in Place: July-August, 2014

New, newer, and newest startups to help older adults. Typically it has made sense on this site to not discuss companies until they are in the market, in production, with customers and funding.  But crowdfunding has changed that paradigm. Some startups chose to surface through crowd-sourcing campaigns, gaining visibility and ideally some funding. If all goes well,  they gain some funding, credibility and even bug-fixes. And as one executive from Lively observed prior to its launch, they get feet on the street and customers.  In this post, check out a few of these companies that have launched or recently moved onto media and funding notifications. As always, press releases -- with actual text! -- might help, as do notifications through Indigogo, Kickstarter or other funders. One more thing If any new, newer, or newest startups plan to be at the AARP Ideas @50+ event in San Diego in 2 weeks, let's get together! >>> Read more . . .

Bad news -- Twitter revenue approaches that of the New York Times

Most might not compare -- but the timing seems right. You may have read the story about Robin Williams' daughter Zelda dropping off Twitter due to trash-posting trolls -- not the first, in fact, that have been targeting women. On July 29, Twitter reported revenue of $312 million, somewhat exceeding estimates, on track to cross $1 billion in revenue during 2014. The New York Times reported $389 million during the same period, slightly missing estimates. And today, the Times appointed Alex MacCallum, a founding editor of The Huffington Post, to be assistant managing editor for audience development.  The Times is reflecting on how to better understand and grow its social media use. Twitter is in the 'process of evaluating how we can improve policies to better handle tragic situations.' Let us think about this for a moment -- and contemplate this sad tale unfolding before us.  >>> Read more . . .

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. >>> Read more . . .

Scaring seniors -- the hyping of falls, fraud, and weather

Listening to the weather channel could make an isolated senior nervous.  Nearly 46% of women aged 75+ (around 11 million) live alone -- and one in three of them will live until at least the age of 90. In fact, 2 million are aged 90+ now.  If they listen to the news or the weather channel, they have quite a bit of opportunity to be frightened about the prospect of tornados, hurricanes, flash floods, excessive heat, poor air quality or wildfires. Perhaps they're watching TV and they see that absolutely horrendous Life Alert ad. That's it for going down to the basement. Then the telephone or doorbell rings -- a nice distraction from the 4+ hours per day spent watching TV or perhaps the few minutes online -- if there is a computer or tablet around them to use. >>> Read more . . .

What makes sense for caregiving -- UberHealth or Caregiving Robots?

That clanking you hear is media drum-banging and robots walking. While the robotics world is literally rocking industries from manufacturing to surgery -- as caregiving robotic technology, there is still nothing much in our time, Paro, Jibo, and other media magnets not withstanding, still on the drawing board or at a price point that only a grant-funded pilot could love. Stated convictions that robots will be here because 'we need them' -- are just that -- stated. As every single article about robots and caregiving has concluded for the past oh-so-many-years, these marvels are in the future and when the caregiving variants do finally arrive, will be accompanied by an interesting set of challenges. Like electric and self-driving cars, the concept precedes the reality of distribution and resellers, battery charging configuration, maintenance and repair processes, rent or buy? And actually, consumers put caregiving robots in the same skeptical category as Google Glass and drones, which means even if they were available, marketing may be a challenge. And while robots as a concept keep popping up in senior housing publications -- nothing much has happened beyond the talk and the concept. >>> Read more . . .

Technology for seniors -- why not an iWatch?

I, for one, am tiring of the Apple iWatch.  And it is not even out yet. A Morgan Stanley analyst predicts that the $300 iWatch will sell between 30 and 60 million units, but wisely, like the 50-50 chance of rain, also notes 'there is a chance that the iWatch will fail.' Apple is bringing in multiple athletes to test the thing, including an unnamed player from the Red Sox (unnamed is probably for the best, these days.) So who will buy a $300 smart watch, will they leave their iPhone and their iPad home? What will they use to take a picture? Hopefully it will be of good quality and look less awkward than photographers holding up iPads to point and shoot. Though will we hold our wrist up before our eyes and look like we are blocking the sun? Out from our arm and look like we are signaling a left turn? >>> Read more . . .

Six Companies from the Boomer Venture Summit 2014

What's new with startups in the boomer-senior market segments? We often note that the boomers have all the money. Yet they are not always the recipients of thoughtful product design or effective marketing strategy. But consider the media interest in the boomer-beyond topic, especially in the health-related segments -- where there's news, there's innovation. And where there's innovation, let's reflect on the Silicon Valley Boomer Venture Summit in Santa Clara, a business plan competition and series of events organized by Mary Furlong and delivered at Santa Clara University. The tone of the event was energetic and entrepreneurs were eager to discuss their offerings and insights. Here are just a few of the companies that were present: >>> Read more . . .

Do free tools like Twitter, Google, and Facebook freely communicate new rules?

Online -- the bad, the worse, and the ugly.  We want 100% of older adults to have access to the Internet.  It's a big place with lots of useful information, educational materials, loaded with discounts, pictures of family members from far away, and on and on.  But who keeps up with recent, uh, upgrades? Please, to those of you helping folks with these tools, training and caution is required: >>> Read more . . .

Do health innovators think about the oldest adults?

Everyone wants to see more innovation in health care delivery.  Not to miss the remote healthcare visitation party -- a relatively recent employee benefit -- Verizon just announced its new Virtual Visits platform, expanding medical access for patients who may wait " an average of 27 days for to schedule an appointment." That’s a 2010 statistic, in case you were wondering. By 2013 the average wait time was more like 18 days. But perhaps the wait time is beside the point – what if you don’t live or happen to be near a doctor?  Would you use a remote visitation service? If you’re elderly, do you NEED a remote visitation service? Yes, perhaps. For some – it can enable access to a doctor’s advice without the hassle of traveling to the office. But does it matter if the oldest adults would not benefit - what if only 34% of those aged 75-79 and 20% of the 80+ seniors have access to broadband? No remote visitation for them. >>> Read more . . .

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