Market Overview for Technology for Aging in Place

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Five tips for startups and enterprises with 2016-2017 offerings

It’s timely – we are entering the competition/event season.  School has started and so has the search for innovation.  To name a few: Stanford has launched a design competition for Innovating Aging in Place. And the day approaches for the Aging 2.0 Global Search Finalists to present. Meanwhile the CTA (Consumer Technology Association) Foundation launched its video contest for startups who want booth space at CES; and the Louisville Innovation Summit announced its pitch finalists. And those are just those in the older adult market segment, not even counting what may be initiated by LeadingAge or Argentum in senior housing or the plethora of upcoming health-related innovation conferences.


So all of this so-named innovation begs questions for entrants, whether they arise from an existing enterprise, an early-stage incubator, or are self-funded concepts.  Let’s assume that the basic good practices for marketing have been checked off – and astutely do not favor mobile ads.  Now consider:


  • Market research.  One of the ten tips to consider and reconsider is the nature of research done – and not of the "My grandmother" category.  Why launch this startup effort?  What else is like this 'new' idea?   How did they do – why did they fail? Oh, you think this idea is unique. And you don’t know about X or Y or Z that precedes this new idea?  Okay, that means it’s time for:
  • More market research.  Now that you know there have been others in the space and that some of them still exist – why aren’t their products/services as viable as yours? Hopefully the answer is not simply that you have more funding than they had, or that you plan a direct-to-consumer grand entrance and they used resellers. You have carefully assessed the missing features from previous or alternate offerings, and you are cultivating all the right channel partners because it’s obvious that others were/are less than what you are creating, which has:
  • Buzzword richness.  Yours is squarely positioned within the Internet of Things (IoT), unlike those previous bereft thingies. And it’s going to enable the smart home, unlike those predecessor and apparently dumber home automation offerings.  And no, it’s not a home security solution, which is so Yesterday.  Your offering is user-friendly and deploys predictive insights (a result) or predictive analytics (a process) to help warn loved ones that a family member needs an assist.  And in addition, yours is clearly a:
  • Service, not a product.  So in this case, the fact that devices come and go is not relevant, because yours will be accompanied by a subscription fee (not a license) that enables your firm to unplug and plug in new options when basic technology components change. In fact, your digitally healthy offering will be placed in the home by skilled technicians called 'installers' who will be able to assess the technology home environment and answer the fundamentals: is there a router here? Where is that patch panel? (What’s a patch panel, anyway?)  But never mind whether yours needs installation or setup of any type, because it’s a:
  • Platform, not a service or product.  [Buzzword alert ON.] In this case, you don’t install stuff.  Your firm finds and recruits partner companies that place their offerings on top (near or around) your platform, which is scalable and able to accommodate other standards-based products by using flexible integration software, enabling addition of new devices and/or services. Yours is wisely in the cloud, while their web-based offering sits on in-house servers.  Yours is compliant with the most recent health data practices – theirs is proprietary and can only be integrated with epic levels of effort and cost.  Is it show-time yet?