Market Overview for Technology for Aging in Place

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April 2019

Ten technologies that can help with fall detection in 2019

The more things change…Who would have thought that fall detection would be added to a hearing aid?  Or that Apple would produce a watch with built-in fall detection, automatically activated for the 65+? A decade ago, before our very first Market Overview, Halo Monitoring launched a wearable fall detection chest strap, realizing the press-the-button PERS devices might not be enough to keep older adults safe – what if they weren’t wearing it?  That dilemma, of course, has helped drive some innovation in the medical alert industry, estimated at $3 billion annual revenue. In fact, MobileHelp, one of the first mobile PERS devices, acquired Halo Monitoring in 2012 – a good move for both, especially since by 2012, it was clear that fall detection by itself was not yet a market category hit.

Five Offerings from the 2019 What’s Next Boomer Business Summit

Today’s What’s Next Boomer Business Summit is recognized as key for entrepreneurs.  For the past 16 years, Mary Furlong and Associates have presented the What’s Next Boomer Business Summit – reflecting ideas and trends about what really is next for the older adult market segments, encompassing, according to AARP, a mind-boggling $7.6 trillion economy. These five companies presented at What’s Next this week in New Orleans today -- Loro was one of  the audience choice winners, along with Intuition Robotics.  Both will head to AARP’s grand pitch finale in the fall.  Information is from the websites of the companies:

Five FinTech Offerings for Older Adults

FinTech – are these tools for seniors?  Some trendy terminology transformations in recent years, for example Voice First and IoT, refer to tech that is relatively new or recently revived.  FinTech, a concatenation of Financial Technology, may be similar.  The category has been generally described as software "designed to be a threat to, challenge, and eventually usurp entrenched traditional financial services providers with the purpose of being more nimble and serving an underserved segment, or providing faster, better service." The next quote sounds a bit ageist, if likely true: "As for consumers, as with most technology, the younger you are the more likely it will be that you are aware of and can accurately describe what FinTech is." Looking at a list of ‘top’ FinTech companies, one might laugh at a company called Robinhood. Don't laugh, though. Charmingly named, Robinhood, which offers free stock trades, is worth $5.6 billion and has more accounts today than eTrade.    

Hearing aid pricing and weak insurance – older adults lose out

You may have seen that rechargeable hearing aid commercial.   What was most striking about the commercial to a hearing industry outsider is the upfront commentary on what sounded like the predatory price of hearing aids – providers “charge whatever they can get.”   Several interesting aspects to that commercial – but the most interesting was that comment.  Who is ‘they’, how much can they ‘get’, and is there insurance that pays for them?  This is in an era where hearing aids have evolved to incorporate embedded AI, fall detection, direct connections for phone calls, and numerous other features and functions.

Policy action on aging and technology – let's expect results

Should we expect change from aging-related tech policy initiatives? The answer is yes. Many are chosen, ideas are circulated from a long list of participants -- good ideas are collected and then the initiative is disbanded.  Maybe it is because the government changes a year later, but the net result is that recommendations appear, but measurements of status or success may not.  A good example from the past 3 years: the PCAST report, summarized in an ASA publication by David Lindeman: 'Independence, Technology, and Connection in Older Age."  A prior report recommending change in the hearing technology industry may have contributed to or encouraged the sale of PSAPs and the introduction in 2018 sale of over-the-counter hearing aids – and may have encouraged additional categories of hearing aids and the growth of interest in 'hearables.’  So to the degree that there is a connection, that’s a good outcome.

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