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Market Overview for Technology for Aging in Place

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September 2014

Are tech innovators ageist -- or have they just not considered seniors?

Some cool tech enters the market. Consider the Apple introduction of the HealthKit (for the health care industry) and the smartwatch which joins the Pebble (which helped fuel interest in smartwatches) and Samsung smartwatches.  Intel found smartwatches intriguing enough to sponsor a clinical trial in conjunction with Parkinson's disease.  Why? Smartwatches (and smartphones) contain accelerometers that enable the device to determine sudden motion -- like detecting a fall, gyroscope and compass to detect whether you're on of the 61 million people out there running.  And they are able to determine location by enabling GPS position of the device. These devices have geofencing capability -- used in Apple devices for setting up a Location Reminder when you arrive at or leave a location (don't forget to do such-and-so errand).

What are the right baby boomer market size numbers?

The numbers of our boomer lives.  So you launch your market messages with an assertion about the addressable market for a product. So one of the timeworn ways used is to start with a concept.  For example, they are going to turn 65 and are retiring -- or perhaps they are unretiring and starting businesses -- at a rate that is big, really, really, big.  So let's consider the following oddity. In 2010, boomers were going to turn 65 at the rate of 10,000 per day for the next 18 years. Then in 2014, you perhaps noticed a different phrase about boomers, including this one from AARP: They are going to turn 65 at the rate of 8,000 per day for the next 18 years. This caused me to wonder, what happened to 2000 of them?  Could they have died?  Left the country?  How many people there are in a certain age range making up an addressable market -- that should be fact, right?  Sort of.  I turned to Brent Green, an advisor to boomer marketers.

Next week is Active Aging Week -- let the trade show season begin

Next week is Active Aging Week 2014.  According to the International Council on Active Aging, there are 3000 events (all over the place) to celebrate beginning tomorrow -- there are "never more reasons to get off the couch."  So now there are 43 million people age 65+ in the US. (Remember when it was 39 million, back in 2012?) Today there are many reasons for older adults to get up and get moving. Seniors are saddled with ever-lengthening life expectancies (one in four of today's 65-year-olds will live to 90! They are stuck in their awkward and costly houses, with questionable health status and a propensity to be overweight.  Meanwhile, more than half of those aged 65+ rely on Social Security -- with its average payment of $1294/month -- for more than half of their income

Consider the impact of Apple announcements -- and move on

Gadgets and gizmos all around, but when is a watch a timepiece? Consider the Apple announcements. How prophetic was the Little Mermaid who said "You want thingamabobs? I've got twenty!" Now think about Maxwell Smart's shoe phone. Somehow the new Apple Smartwatch reminds me of gadgets that were so silly and fanciful, they could only have been in the movies (Captain Kirk, Dick Tracey had a variety of amazingly smart watches) or on television.  Just think how many other tech products have emerged from the movies -- or for that matter, read this article about the technologies today -- like the Flip phone -- that were imagined by the creators of Star Trek. Just because they can be created -- they are, and often have amazing and compelling implementations (3-D printers and replacement body parts?)

Let's focus our lens on caregiving -- technology and beyond

Tech we talk about -- health -- the much-hyped investment opportunity. We talk ad nauseum about health innovation, often in the context of an aging society -- from StartupHealth, Rock Health, Health 2.0, and AARP's own Health@50+.  And we're wired beyond saturation with new health device tech announcements, from the advance swooning about Apple everything (never seen so many health dreams and now, security worries!) and Samsung nearly-everything-else (never seen so many device shapes!)  And there was plenty of health tech talk at the AARP Ideas@50+ in San Diego -- see Health Interactive@50+.