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Market Overview for Technology for Aging in Place

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2018 Market Overview of Technology for Aging in Place published

Technology and tech-enabled services matter for older adults. The marketplace for technology to assist aging adults in the Longevity Economy is expected to grow to more than $30 billion in the next few years, according to the updated report by Aging in Place Technology Watch, more likely to be based on customization of standard software, using existing platforms than creation of senior-specific products. The report provides predictions about key technology trends for 2018 and beyond. Families, caregivers, and seniors will acquire new tech-enabled services that improve the quality of their lives. The 100-million-strong 50+ market is increasingly aware of technology alternatives and providers know it:

Voice-first interfaces will dominate apps and devices.  We are still downloading apps, but that era may end. Instead we will be experimenting with personal assistants or AI-enabled voice first technologies (Siri, Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Cortana) which can act as mini service provider interfaces – find an appointment, a ride, song, a restaurant, a hotel, an airplane seat. Technology survivors may be voice-inappropriate tools for social networking, mapping, camera, and news. And there is a continuing wave of behavior modification apps, which currently seem to come and go with the tides of marketing hype – stop smoking, get moving, avoid too much sun, drink more water. Maybe your doctor will prescribe an app – many Silicon Valley startups folk believe (or hope) this will happen – but doctors are not quite convinced.

Internet of Things (IoT) replaces sensor-based categories.  The sensor-based home monitoring market that crested in 2008 was an early example of the possibilities that evolved later. Nearly a decade later, small sensors and tags, as well as the hubs that can detect and monitor them are becoming mainstream.  This Internet of (smarter) Things, or IoT, encompasses tags to help find things, smart devices like wall plugs, thermostats, light bulbs, and even pet feeders. These can be managed through configurable home hubs from Google, Amazon or Samsung. These voice-first hubs compete to be their own home (and car) control ecosystems.

Niche hardware will fade away long live software and training.  In 2017, will senior-focused hardware survive accelerating technology change? Yes, if it mitigates a health-related condition (hearing, dexterity or vision loss). Otherwise, we will see software that will make hardware platform choices hidden or irrelevant. Will senior phones and tablets survive the voice-first and software-primarily wave?  Or will seniors choose custom or assistive configurations on a standard phone or tablet? And will tablets (even ones for seniors) be swept aside by ever-larger smartphones? Some will buy specialty devices meant for ease-of-use, but most seniors will be trained to use standard tablets or more likely learn about their smartphones in the store classes or at workshops for standard off-the-shelf products.

Tech-enabled home care pressures traditional homecare providers – or does it?  Can $200 million of VC investment be wrong – or premature?  During 2015-2016, investors begin a swoon for tech-enabled home care providers. However, the first failure occurred almost immediately with the demise of Home Hero. Maybe the hype pushed self-scrutiny within the home care agencies and franchises, those that rely mostly on people to do background checking, staff to match need with worker, and managers to track work. And all are struggling with shortages of workers to do these low-paid jobs. These home care providers may wonder and fret – is 2018 the year they must offer 'tech-enabled' care? What exactly is tech-enabled care? Is there a way to supplement in-person oversight with tracking, camera, or voice technology, delivered by retailers like BestBuy?

"Health Tech" doesn't replace "Digital Health" barely acknowledges aging.  In a recent MobiHealth News webinar, founder Brian Dolan observed that Digital Health as a category was being replaced in 2016 and beyond with the term Health Tech – but that didn't actually happen. The dream of reimbursement for the category, especially remote monitoring, persists as the way to replace institutional technology (and budgets) for hospital/health systems, medical practices, and related IT departments. There is still ambiguity between categories of 'digital health' and so-called Personal Connected Health (including some mention of older adults) when summit titles are coined.

Robotics and virtual reality will continue – as experiments.  The press loves to write about robots and seniors. Still at the anecdote stage, widespread use of care-related robots in the home or in senior living communities has not happened and is not expected for years. Instead, robotic pets are growing in popularity in senior communities and private homes – no care and feeding required, plus the possibility of providing comfort to seniors who feel isolated or may have dementia. During 2017, more senior living communities also experimented with virtual reality.

Read the report to see more trends and more than 25 new products/services.

 

Comments

Someone needs to invent a simple cable remote that has only the necessary buttons--on, off, volume, channel, and possibly mute. I keep having to send the cable company out to my mother's AL to put her cable back in service because she keeps hitting the wrong buttons.

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