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Market Overview for Technology for Aging in Place

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Aging 2.0 Optimize -- the goal is to accelerate the pace of innovation

It's been a busy week that reflects growing interest in aging and new technologies. Just after the third annual Louisville Innovation Summit, some of the attendees and/or exhibitors dashed to San Francisco for the Aging 20 Optimize event. The founders, Stephen Johnston and Katy Fike, launched Aging 2.0 in 2012 'to pick up the pace of innovation that benefits older adults.' The program includes the Generator Ventures fund, an 'Academy' to cultivate classes annual classes of startups, distributed worldwide events, and competitions that feature finalists who participate in pitch competitions. Their flagship and well-attended Optimize event concluded today in San Francisco – with five of the exhibiting/pitching startups featured below. Information is from their websites or press materials: 

Louisville cultivates innovation that benefits aging adults

Innovation featured in Louisville, Kentucky.  Louisville, known for the Kentucky Derby and Bourbon, has also emerged as one of the aging care headquarter cities in the US, with some of largest providers of aging care services -- like Kindred, Signature, Atria, as well as Humana and Delta Dental, among others.  This is the third year of the Louisville Innovation Summit – which provides a platform for the sponsoring organizations as well as a forum for startups and an innovation competition.  Announced by the city's mayor Greg Fischer at the event, Louisville was just named as an Age Friendly Communities by one of the event's sponsors, AARP, using the framework that originated by the World Health Organization  Among those exhibiting were Pharmerica, GrandCare, and LifeBio. The event also included some of the very (very) newest. All information is from the companies' or Summit website):

Nextdoor before a hurricane – hyper-local, hyper-useful

"Finishing up shutter installation on sliders. Need input on how to get stubborn screws in concrete loose."  It’s October 5, 2016 and 125 mile per hour winds may be barreling into Florida. The streets of a neighborhood are connected and reveal what residents are doing, what they need.  The residents yesterday and today are mostly online (these are their quotes) and in need – or their neighbors are online and asking for help on their behalf. They have been invited in by their neighbors, the rental agency, homeowner association office and realtors.  That tool is Nextdoor, a last resort invention by a handful of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs right before before they returned money to investors.

Media hype of the same tech firms -- more clicks, less benefit

Aren’t you tired of technology that doesn’t exist – or could hurt you? Let’s consider the technology offerings we cannot buy and perhaps do not ever want to buy.  There is a growing and increasingly tedious list of them, as noted in the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, ZDNet, CNET, and blah, blah, blah elsewhere.  The tech companies these media influencers want you to know about include Facebook drones, self-driving cars, those ubiquitous robots, and anything that has the word Apple in the text – can you say Wall Street Journal?  It is getting tough to select from the conflicting survey articles on driverless cars. The word 'fear' crops up a lot – perhaps having to do with concerns about a recent autonomous auto casualty. This gem is from today, about the cities that will lead the driverless car 'revolution.'  Condolences to you if you live in one of those cities.

Watching the home care industry slowly (or quickly) morph

Some industries remain the same for 30 years – and then POW!  Think back to travel agencies, bank branches, bookstores, hardware stores.  Each of these ultimately were traumatized into consolidation and transformation by new entrants. Smaller players in every segment went out of business.  The consumer was willing and eager to change. Online promotion of new capabilities helped them see what the existing players could not. Consider that in 2011, there were a very few indicators of the utility of tech-enabled home care. Naysayers about home care’s future in those days included some of the most entrenched.

Facebook video ads -- not as rich as they appear

So Facebook overstated ad video viewing – but no matter.  Is this a big deal, that this overstatement was 60-80% over a two-year period?  Enough to influence ad buying during that period, favoring Facebook, perhaps, over TV ads. It was enough for plenty of news coverage and an apology from Facebook, their ad revenue was 63% of its total revenue in the last quarter – more than $6 billion. Had they known, advertisers could have poured a bit more into TV ads.  Does any of this matter? Well, if you’re not sure what your target audience is viewing, numbers could be misleading. In fact, perhaps Facebook was one of those online venues for almost $69 billion spent on Internet advertising in 2016. Next year, Internet ad spending is projected at $77 billion, outpacing TV ad spending for the first time.

Five technologies to help care for older adults – September, 2016

Behold more startup efforts to help with care.  You must admire this. The energy and entrepreneurial enthusiasm driving new entrants is astounding. And if at first, an idea does not take hold, note the founder of that one may appear in a new variant. You know that doctors can now bill for end-of-life conversations. And no surprise, a tool emerges that helps doctors with these conversations. One adds to the lengthy nationwide list of 'telephone reassurance' service providers. And there is even a directory. The offerings below are selected from recent press releases, startup finalists, and conversations. Note that the alphabetically-listed material is all drawn from the content provided by the companies:

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.

Five hearing tech announcements that could benefit older adults

Hearing technology advances -- the hearing aid industry considers changing. It’s a positive when you see disruption of industries that have too tight a lock on the consumer, whether it is in categories of health insurance, telecom carriers or hearing aids.  You spend time with people everywhere you go – those with significant hearing loss but no hearing aids; they have hearing aids, but hate to wear them.  According to a recent NY Times article, two-thirds of adults over 70 have hearing loss that warrants hearing aids, but only 15-30% of those wear them – and at $5000 a pair, no wonder. In recent years, personal sound amplification products (PSAPs) that are not classified as hearing aids and thus do not require the audiologist role, though the FDA may change that. Just asking, if the device is called a ‘Wearable’, does Silicon Valley find it more worthy of funding? But anyway. In July, Consumer Reports published an explanatory guide that should be required reading for organizations that serve older adults. It would seem to be the wild west of innovation.  Here is a sampling of five recent product announcements:

The Internet and loneliness among older adults

Research about loneliness among older adults matters -- to researchers! RANT ON. This past week produced an oddly-titled article: Researchers confront an epidemic of loneliness – among the elderly, focusing on the connection between loneliness and poor health and cognitive decline. This was not 'The New Old Age' -- quite  the contrary. The article described how much more advanced Britain is than the US in "addressing the problem of loneliness as it relates to health." Okay, okay. Why not attempt to address loneliness among seniors? So in Britain, consider this call-in number, The Silver Line, started by a 73-year-old woman, herself admittedly lonely following the death of her husband. 

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