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Market Overview for Technology for Aging in Place

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Tech and aging marketplace: Did you miss these posts?

Do VCs matter in the older adult space? According to a Stanford Business School analysis, in today's economy VCs have become a 'dominant force' in the financing of innovative companies. This began, they note, with "a regulatory change in 1979 that permitted pension funds to invest in VC funds."  Okay, but do VCs really matter? Now switch coasts and perspectives, note how a Harvard Business School report picked through six myths about VCs, pretty much debunking the rhetoric in the Stanford report. Most VC funds, especially larger ones, do not outperform the market. "VC financing is the exception, not the norm, for startups" and given the rise of crowd funding and a broad range of angel investors, "VCs will continue to play a significant, but most likely smaller, role in channeling capital to disruptive start-ups." The question to ponder:  which category of investor, and specifically which investor groups, are interested in the older boomer and senior markets?

What are the rules, what are the criteria for innovation competitions?

Everyone loves competitions – but could they be better?  RANT ON. So what could be better than innovation competitions? Especially those that focus on improving quality of life for older adults? So in the face of these feel-good goals, here are a few laudable calls-to-action phrases from past competitions. From Aging 2.0: "quality of overall concept, viability of product or service" and "impact on the aging experience – potential to improve quality of life for older adults, caregivers, and/or revolutionize the aging services industry." From Stanford Longevity Design Challenge:  "Create well-designed, practical solutions that address key issues associated with aging." From a CAST/Leading Age student competition: "Transform existing products or create new ones that would appeal to middle-aged adults. Students in gerontology, engineering, business, industrial design, architecture and social work are especially encouraged to participate."  

Six new tech-enabled housing concepts for older adults

The future of housing for seniors – or the future of senior housing? Innovators are approaching the tech-enabled future of homes for seniors from multiple directions – support for people with dementia, new approaches to tech in a senior housing campus, new systems for aging at home, and new kinds of age-friendly housing. Innovation is sorely needed -- considering that current approaches to senior housing, whether in assisted living (too expensive) or age-segregated communities (too isolated and/or risky) may not be right for everyone.  Here are some other recently noted housing approaches, material is from sites or news:

Five New Technologies for Caregivers and Older Adults, July, 2016

What are the rules and what are the criteria? Look through these grouped press releases -- all posted here because they (or at least the reminder-to-drink-water concept that is represented) could/should be useful to an older adult or someone who cares for them. It is intriguing that we are at a perceived point in technology utilization for app-to-app communication between an adult child and parent. Also Tochtech is reminiscent of Cookstop, noted here in 2011.  Comments are welcome.

How much do VCs matter for startups in the older adults segments?

It is a given -- startups want to hear from venture capital panel pundits.  Hindsight being 20-20, those who help make venture capital investments clearly have panel potential. You are a startup and what you want most to hear is why VCs invest and why they seem alternately enamored with consumer-oriented tech or enterprise/health tech.  In fact, you could puzzle a bit over the way newly-generated terminology overtakes ideas that did not do well with VCs or anyone else. For example, what happened to the 2001 prediction of the rise-fall-rise of eHealth?  

Silicon Valley app-centric upstarts reshape traditional businesses  

What is a Silicon Valley unicorn?  In case you didn't know, that's a startup valued at more than $1 billion. No surprise that the original definition references a mythical animal.  Perhaps the essential characteristic, then, may be that it was mythical.  Let’s consider that in December, 2015, the $66 billion market cap of one of these app-based myth-makers had exceeded that of 80% of the companies in the Fortune 500. Okay, so following a recent trip to Silicon Valley, it seems important to snatch reality back from the jaws of terminology buzz, recognizing that: 

Quackery and snake oil – maybe that IS the state of health tech

Firestorm from the American Medical Association.  A few weeks ago, the CEO of the AMA, Dr. James Madara, said what few others will say: "…the explosion of direct-to-consumer digital health products, to apps of mixed quality – it’s the digital snake oil of the early 21st century."  And if that weren’t enough, he compared the technology innovations today (including "ineffective" EHRs) as analogous to the challenges confronting 'quackery' when the AMA was founded in 1847.  Then came the chorus of rebuttals from health IT folk and the Boston Brahmins of digital health, including Dr. Joseph Kvedar ("telemedicine is unstoppable") and Dr. John Halamka ("no snake oil to see here!").  But adults are downloading health apps – in one study, at least half of the surveyed population had downloaded at least one.  Using, not so much.

Consider Challenging Innovators to Design for older adults

Consumers don't care about products -- they want solutions. What year were those words said? "The senior home monitoring market has historically been more aligned with home security and security installer/dealers than with the hands-on consumer/family. But in fact, home security dealers were not well-prepared to market to seniors. Now innovation (versus Digital Health quackery) and price disruption are pushing those offerings into the hands of consumers, where what matters is simplicity. And what matters is ease of integration into what exists PLUS availability of training on how to use it."  See how the advice from a previous research report stands up to scrutiny -- published exactly two years ago -- repeated today with new links right before the 2016 Silicon Valley Boomer Venture Summit:

Five Technology Innovations for Older Adults – June, 2016

As the event season winds down, let’s reflect.  Has there been a technology breakthrough this year?  Consider the 2016 conferences, including CES,  JP Morgan Health Investing, AARP LivePitch, 1 Million Cups Coffee Pitch, Digital Health Summer Summit, and soon, the Silicon Valley Boomer Venture Summit. Just before the fall season kicks off with more startups and events, what has been interesting, new, and/or recent in the way of announcements? Here are five, all text from their own media/material:

Why an up-to-date online presence matters

Why does Sunrise Senior Living have a blog?  Actually, it appears to have been updated today.  You might think that a company in the residential senior care business wouldn’t.  And further, Brookdale can be followed on Twitter.   So can JoAnn Jenkins of AARP – that makes great sense – AARP is a content/media company.  So what’s up when you can’t find any reasonably current content, or worse, the site offers up a suggestion to meet up in…2015? Or when the last tweet from a company that is still in business and is doing quite well – but their last Tweet was in 2012?

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