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Home technology ecosystem chaos – there’s no app for that

Technology gadgets – ecosystem incompatibility.  Look around a very digital home filled with parallel and incompatible ecosystems – and sigh.  So many parts, so little integration – it seems vendors compete to death to NOT work together. Consider iMessage – like insider trading, it works well for iPhone execs and phone owners. Consider Bluetooth – it must be turned on so a device can pair with that cool in-room speaker, but turned off to save energy. Really. A smartphone isn't witty enough to know that it is in the room with a Bluetooth-compatible speaker or fitness band and perhaps should be enabled? And not smart enough to turn Bluetooth off when the phone departs the room? But the device is now smart enough to suggest a WiFi network to pick -- in fact every time your car passes a location that has WiFi enabled.

You might want this gaggle of gear to do something – not just be configured or upgraded. Consider the Roku Smart TV (no box) or Roku box, Amazon Echo and Echo Show, Google Home, the Apple HomePod, the new very touchy, er, edgy, Galaxy phone, or one of the RLIs -- Really Large iPhones. Then mix into the hardware salad bowl, uh, 'ecosystem', those now-aging iPad 2s, old and slow Macs, Windows tablets, or even  some (!) virus-laden PCs.  Pick up a few impenetrable remote control devices, add a handful of wired and wireless chargers, and last, but not least, add a router. You could have been breathlessly keeping up with the latest technology change, dutifully patching PCs on Tuesdays.  So what have you got?  A mess. 

Why boomers will be technology laggards in their later years.  One of the comments repeated often is a sigh of relief from someone in the aged 45-70 age range, often a founder of a startup: "Fortunately, when boomers are older seniors, they will bring their technology smarts with them -- so it won’t be the same painful process, like learning a second language, so daunting for today’s older/oldest adults."  Ah, as my mother would say:  'Rubbish!'  The in-home technology situation will be far worse. Many of the 12 previous device classes noted above will be made obsolete by their manufacturers – even for tech support – and can’t be sold to anyone on eBay or even Craigslist. There will be a new pile of gear, newer even than today's IoT sensors, wearable bands (already discontinued!), smart watchesVR headsets, or other soon-to-be 'crapgadgets.'

We want to stay in touch with the young. No, that is not so we can iMessage them. It is not to watch them run races on YouTube. It is not to spy on them with Facebook. It’s so that they can help the oldest among us deal with our gadgets for as long as we need. Like the Senior Move Manager helping with downsizing of homes, the Personal Photo Organizer helping to cull through photos, so too we will need a PGO – the Personal Gadget Organizer who will sort through our gear, do the needed upgrades, and finally, unplug the devices for recycling, or e-use.


Perhaps you might publish an annual listing of soon to be "crapgadgets?" My unused VR headset  comes to mind.

Having read and re-read your commentary,  I have to ask:  do you really believe Boomers will be technology laggards in their later years? I'm having trouble getting my head around that observation.

The laggard theory is based on the gap between the pace of change and willingness to accommodate it.  Resistance to change among older adults is well-documented.  

Just because we want to keep up with change in middle age does not mean that it is likely we will also like it in old age.   Also, one cannot presume to know what the changes will be.  


At 54 I am already moving from an attitude of "how soon can I learn this new tech" to "it's too much bother to learn this new tech, I'll just learn this aspect of the gadget/software."  As boomers retire they will no longer have their job demanding that they stay up to date on the latest and greatest. One argument against boomer laggards is that retirees may have more time to fidget with the newest toys.

 I like your identification of a new job role: Personal Gadget Organizer. There's a job for some of the people who'll be displaced by AI!


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