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January 2011

Aging in Place Technology Watch January 2011 Newsletter

Boomers have turned senior, let 2011 and the games begin.  2011 kicked off reading one silly article after another about the 'first wave of baby boomers turning 65, woe is us', and the related gloom-and-doom set of books, including, but in no way limited to Shock of Gray (Fishman) and Never Say Die (Jacoby). But the year really began for me at CES in Las Vegas where I stood mesmerized in front of the technologically transcendent Bellagio fountain and oh yes, saw exhibits and vendors inside the convention halls, heard numerous speakers talk about the growing prevalence of mHealth -- all those iPhone apps, crazy -- and learned about new tech for chronic disease management, numerous smart phones (11), tablets (85), app stores (one for each hardware vendor?) and more. Really too much information to comprehend.

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A call to action -- educate caregivers about tech they can use

National Alliance for Caregiving's study -- very revealing. In January, NAC published a report sponsored by United Healthcare which surveyed how caregivers view technology.* The 1000 online responders were all caregivers (providing at least five hours per week of unpaid care) and already were users of some sort of tech, as little as doing online searches for information. The report views these as 'technology-using caregivers', a somewhat alarming label in the context of their responses:

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Tech, teens, and tunes for seniors

Older adults have more tech literacy than the WSJ credits.  I wish that I could love this article from the January 12 Wall Street Journal. Unfortunately, grump that I am, not so much. It looks horrendous to see the 'Who's Online' Pew numbers in the chart -- 20% for Older Boomers?  13% of the 65-73 range?  One pauses -- that's not right. Oh yeah, those are the percentages in those age ranges of the Internet-using population. So let's mull that over -- the 65+ population in total represents only 13% of the (entire) population in the US, so it kind of makes sense that 65-73 year olds are only 13% of the Internet-using population. So let's get the rest of the Pew Generations Online data out there for the record - 76% of older boomers (56-64) are online, 58% of those 65-73, and 30% of those 75+. Not too bad, more progress required.

Notable by its scarcity -- 2011 CES tech for an older audience

To be expected - the pounding stereo and flashing TV screens of the 2011 CES. Attendees were treated to a particularly awe-inspiring multi-screen, stop-you-in-your-tracks LG display; the white light room with nothing but Audis in it; and that deep-plush Microsoft region -- hard to call it a booth -- with so many Kinect game-playing glassed compartments. See two older men in suits playing an energetic kicking game of soccer with their screen avatars. Walk away, shaking your head. And this year's style -- never have so many people walked so far among so many exhibits of glittery iPhone cases, swoopy tablet sleeves, and sleek headphone cases. And 2011 is obviously the year that Tablets must be offered to compete with the absent iPad -- 75 different versions of a device no one needed just one (long) year ago. Read from others about what was, wasn't, and shouldn't be at CES. 

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Let's craft a vision for computer vision -- applied to aging

Seeing you with smart eyes that don't blink. Maybe you saw the intriguing article about the numerous and varied applications for computer vision -- some in the market, some just a gleam in the research and vendor eye. But we all want to think about the uses of computer vision -- not just a web camera for Skyping with the grandkids or used for playing cool games, but rather, a camera integrated with specific software that can react to the images seen -- and help with task or make the environment safer.


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