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07/30/2021

The Google Nest Hub Max device, configured for the senior housing community.

07/21/2021

But still overshadowed by other care options.

07/20/2021

Before buying, figure out your needs.

07/15/2021

Muting ear-piercing sounds with earbuds.

07/15/2021

Discount programs for low income older adults.

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Online privacy – when did we notice it was gone?

We should not accept that we are the product, always sharable.  From Amazon Sidewalk bandwidth sharing to always listening devices to smart assistants saving us from typing to recommendation engines (“If you liked this…”). The assumption derived from our behavior with new tech innovations? We have bought in – unless we go to ridiculous lengths to avoid having our data and information used (or abused) online. Consider ways in which algorithms still make mistakes that the individual referenced cannot easily correct.

Flip phones make no sense for older adults

Consider AARP’s list of flip and smart phones. AARP just published a puzzling guide article about smartphones targeted to older adults.  Note the article and the commentary that accompanied it – (and don’t get distracted by the paragraph explaining megapixels).  You may be struck by multiple aspects of this article – in addition to the phone makers you haven’t heard of. The IDC VP refers to older adults as senior citizens, for one, the T-Mobile exec lumping older adults into 55+ segment in a sweeping generalization of being ‘value conscious.’   Okay, enough being snippy.

Broadband access for all -- are we there yet?

Broadband penetration among adults in the US – is the job done? According to Parks Associates, 88% of US households have broadband. Do you find that confusing? Startling in the face of all of the state and government initiatives to connect more households? Minimum speed issues possibly going to be revised? What speeds are they talking about? Watch a Netflix movie? Participate in a zoom call? Not exactly. Turns out the current speed definitions “aren’t high enough to do anything.” Not a single area of West Virginia is properly served, according to that June 25, 2021 article. Colorado, Virginia – same complaint. Slow speed access is akin to no-speed access. Moving slowly past the speed issue – gets you to the adoption problem for older adults. What’s that you say? 22 million older adults, or 42% of the 65+ population, lack wireline broadband? Shouldn't that matter?

Almost useful: AI and machine learning in our lives as we age

Like the obsessively observant HAL, today's tech is always learning your behavior.  You mention a concept or product in an e-mail – and are surprised to see that ‘offer’ (displayed or pushed) in your next interaction.  Snoopy software tools like the A-word are persistent with the ‘insights’ gained from perusing your text. I see you have asked about such and so – would you like me to order it?  Snooping on your actions is fundamental for advertising and the revenue, uh, continued market valuations of A-words (oh, yes, absolutely, we protect privacy!).  Plenty of other privacy issues  persist with Twitter, the various G-words (health data too!), and the like.  These products build their value by ‘getting smarter’ all the time about you, but there are multiple well-documented and alarming privacy problems.

From Wearables to Smart Homes -- Four Blog Posts June 2021

June was a short, but pivotal month for aging and health.  Months of research with executives from 27 organizations resulted in the completion of new report, The Future of Wearables and Older Adults 2021.  It was presented on a panel at The What’s Next Longevity Venture Summit in June with 3 of the interviewees, Dr. Hon Pak of Samsung, Jeff Ray of Omron, and Mark Gray of Constant Companion.  Although current adoption is relatively low, the future of wearables has great potential for older adults, particularly in alerting to health issues between visits to the doctor. June was a season for new health-related product announcements from Apple and an oddity of an announcement from Amazon.  Also during June, preliminary research has begun on another, potentially connected, future report topic about Smart Homes and older adults. Here are the four blog posts from June:

To help older adults, smart home tech should wise up

Smart home tech – if it can be invented, it has been.  It is the ultimate tinkerer’s fantasy, something from an ‘Open the Pod Bay Doors, Hal’ future.  As we signal our car’s arrival on the street near our house, the home’s temperature is automatically adjusted, the garage door opens automatically. Soon music will begin playing in the kitchen, the oven will begin preheating, and the newly purchased Echo Show 10 is in position to swivel towards us as we enter and present the recipe of the day. The trash can has already changed its own bag, the litter robot changed the cat litter, and knowing it has been a dry day, the smart sprinkler has just completed its cycle.

Five Tech Innovations for Older Adults - June 2021

The innovation competition season has begun. The What's Next Longevity Venture Summit is over and the Aging 2.0 Global Innovation Search voting process has begun. These are two substantial initiatives that often reveal interesting and useful companies to help with aging well and to mitigate various issues of aging and caregiving. Note that these five companies, selected from these two conference initiatives,are early stage (or even really early stage) and are included here because they may have concepts, offerings or approaches that are worth noting and thinking about. A link to the websites for more information is included.  Please comment if you know of other competitions and offerings than those mentioned here.

The A’s have it: Amazon and Apple surprise/dismay this week

Apple recognizes that aging is at the core of a device/health strategy.  Several features were announced at Apple’s developer conference this week that were specifically relevant for an older demographic. Perhaps that population, likely aged 70+, may not (yet) have an iPhone or an Apple Watch. Noting the tech adoption gaps cited by AARP (wearables) and Pew (smartphones), Apple wants to change that, whether via family member gifts and/or pressure, possibly from healthcare providers. iPhones will offer real-time assessment of walking steadiness and fall risk, based on balance, stability and coordination while carrying the phone, not the watch. In addition, Apple added ‘opt-in’ health data sharing with other iOS users, such as aging parents, so that caregivers or family can see any worrisome trends like fall risk. No, data can’t be shared with Android or PC users. Why not, since, oddly, those users can launch a FaceTime call? Just because.  

The Future of Wearables and Older Adults - report plus May posts

Wearables are new (now) to most older adults in 2021. But that will change in the coming years as broad market acceptance drives interest among the 65+ population. Adoption will grow as the price points become more affordable; and most important, as the data from wearables becomes more actionable, informative, and predictive of future change. Within five years, doctors will see the benefit in guiding older adults to their usage. Chronic disease monitoring through wearables will see the most substantial growth.  And stigma-free and lower cost hearables will provide customizable sound improvements to a far broader population than current hearing aids.  Check out the new report:  The Future of Wearables and Older Adults 2021.  And the other blog posts from May 2021 that drove the report content forward:

For older adults -- What attributes of wearables will help in the future?

What does the future hold for wearables and older adults? Change is ahead. Older adults in 2021 are at the same point of awareness and adoption of wearables as was once the case for Voice First.  According to AARP's recent technology survey, most, especially those aged 70+, have not adopted wearables. They may be particularly unfamiliar with those that capture and track health-related status.  But that will change, as general market adoption drives interest among older adults and those who care for them.  Price points will become more affordable and data will become more actionable, informative, and predictive of future change. As the technology evolves, wearables will be:

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