Market Overview for Technology for Aging in Place

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Create the v2.0 measured life to help older adults


Evolving technology for an aging population – is evolving. Most who are in and around the tech and aging market would agree that this market is s-l-o-w-l-y emerging, offering up fairly complex tech, equally complex sales channel structures, and a pricing model that begs for (but doesn’t get) insurance reimbursement.  Research centers (like Stanford’s or the MIT AgeLab) and consortia like LeadingAge contemplate the tech futures of helpful robotics, smart homes, devices to shore up memory loss, and cars that could take the worry out of whether we can see, hear, or hold a wheel well enough to drive, never mind remember where we are going. In this world, so focused on health care and senior housing, we can find telehealth technology (Bosch), passive activity sensors (Healthsense) and sleep pattern tracking (WellAWARE), wander management devices, and the ever-so-glacial integration of these with health records.


Quantified self – a different world of hackers, sensors and invention. Consider a parallel Quantified Self world heading in a strikingly similar direction, largely populated by the young, curious, maybe obsessed. Within the Quantified Self movement ("knowledge through numbers"), a gaggle of geeks meet together in various garages and online as part of an international movement – measuring and discussing what tech they are designing, testing, trying, and verifying efficacy. In this world, find tech for tracking sleep patterns, wireless weight results, diet, fitness, heart rate – and their progress in treatments for 500 different health conditions – and look over Cure Together, loaded with patient ratings of treatments. And while you’re at it, look through the ‘complete guide’ with its reviews and ratings, something the tech and aging world has yet to produce, let alone endorse.


Quantified self – better living through tracking.  The core philosophy of the Quantified Self movement, sharing ‘an interest in self-knowledge through self-tracking’ offers what the tech and aging market has yet to realize or achieve – that the collective wisdom of crowds, feedback from the population with a vested interest (which can include experts and professionals), widely shared results will create a virtuous cycle of more innovation, ideas to be widely shared and augmented, and positive results from user experimentation and experience. And the kicker -- the ability to find all of this information exposed online, ratings and all, and even in one place!


Seize the parallel – invite in, reward developers, for tech for aging.  And no, I am not talking about grants that expire. What if Leading Age, Stanford, MIT AgeLab and other consortia got together, funded a prize (backed by corporations) every year for the best enhancement of an existing tech for aging? What if vendors published APIs through these university programs (enjoy this post on Fitbit’s integration with Google Spreadsheets – “awesome”)? If you care about ways in which tech can help older adults, imagine a world in which that tech was talked about online by you, posting feedback, reviews, concerns about pricing, products, potential and tech yet to be developed. What prevents the creation of a ‘Quantified Senior’ world, spun off the sites that already exist?