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What's Next Longevity Innovation Summit, DC, December, 2022

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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:

Adoption of wearables by older adults -- what are the barriers?

For wearables to be useful to older adults, some barriers need to be overcome.  As has been the case with other technology innovations that can provide great benefit to seniors, the value of wearables may be great for older adults -- especially when personalized to the characteristics and needs of an individual. However, the implementation and/or data integration may be lacking. And there may be significant concerns about being tracked or where the data resides. Reviewing the impediments to this useful category actually being adopted -- these may include:

Five Trends Driving Potential of Wearables and Older Adults

Wearables are nothing new – except in how they are used.  The Quantified Self movement, coined as a term in Wired in 2007, simply described the growing interest in tracking those personal characteristics that could be recorded and analyzed by the user of wearable technology. From activity trackers that gained popularity in the past decade, to introduction of smart watches by Apple in 2015, the adoption of wearables by older adults has continued to grow.  New products fuel interest about their potential for older adult health-related benefit, such as the Oura Ring, the Apple Watch Series 6 and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 Active, or the Bose SoundControl hearing aid.

Five Wearable Tech Offerings for 2021

Not your mother’s pendant or your father’s blood pressure cuff. Today’s wearables, adopted by only a small percentage of older adults, have possibilities for helping many.  Research interviews for The Future of Wearables and Older Adults 2021 report, published in June, show notable change in this market. Wearables today have moved beyond the PERS pendant functionality so long marketed to older adults. Today’s devices, whether on ear, hand, or wrist,  may incorporate AI, enable personalization, track multiple health attributes, notice change, predict future issues, or even provide guidance for suggested health improvements.  Here are five examples discussed with their execs in research interviews -- all content comes from the company website or reviews:

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