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But at the end of the day, how do you design for all?

Market Overview for Technology for Aging in Place

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Consider the focus for elder care technologies -- what should it be?

Just as interest is heating up, could adoption stall?  Turns out we’ve been in an innovators' bubble for Digital Health's Hype-and-Hope (HAH). Who knew there were 10 indicators of doom ahead? Stating the obvious, 'entrepreneurs are creating products patients don’t want to use' and there aren’t enough 'reimbursement incentives to drive providers to prescribe.'  And those creating wearable and mobile variants seem to have missed sight of the target market – that is, boomers and beyond.

Boomers and adoption of mobile health -- not so fast

Let's start at the conclusion -- the hype hasn't produced health for boomers.  The new California Health Care Foundation sponsored boomer health tech report is out.  First the bad news. Baby boomers (aged 50-69 in 2015) aren't getting the health innovation investment money's worth, though the spigot is wide open for digital health funding.  Which is odd because they represent the single largest cohort that generates health cost, possibly as a result of their more sedentary lifestyle, compared to the previous generations.  Health care costs are often described in the press as going down, but really only the rate of increase is slowing – according to PwC, the growth rate still outpaces inflation.

Tackling social isolation and seniors -- beyond email and phone calls

Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone’s family lived next door? Maybe. The reality is that people move. A lot. Out of California, in big numbers. Into Florida (from the Northeast) in big numbers.  In fact, 10% of the population moved in just one year, 2012-2013. And most Americans don’t move to be near family.  Which explains the vast numbers of people aged 80+ in retiree-attracting locations who have no family nearby.  One can speculate as to why, but likely the locations in which they settled, while great for recreation activities, may have limited job prospects or job growth.

November will matter for Caregivers, Alzheimer’s, Diabetes and more

When is a month not just another calendar page? Thanksgiving is not the only festivity in November. It’s the month when PR agencies get to do what they do best – publicize, generate awareness, mobilize media coverage, also known as free content. There’s the laundry list of days to consider.  While October was pretty full of health observance dates, November is also impressive. There's Purple Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month (5 million Americans) not to be confused with World Alzheimer’s Day held September 21 (46 million globally). It’s also National Family Caregiver’s Month (90 million family caregivers) and National Diabetes Month (29 million) and World Diabetes Day (371 million worldwide). Now you see those numbers, now you are aware.

Toward an Internet of Caring Things

We have seen the scary future – and it is behind the firewall.  Let’s say it: The Internet of Things almost seemed useful – smart objects connected together was once a great marketing tag line. Now it is becoming an Orwellian nightmare, not just because Google can drive the car while you text. Now we know your car has millions of lines of code in it and is easily hacked by two guys on a couch with a laptop. Volkswagen’s internal hacking, uh, deception to meet emissions standards has given visibility to the Internet of Cheating Things, not to mention the Internet of Hacked Things (from drones!!), and Scammed Things (from the refrigerator!!). And just think how obsolete CES "crap gadgets" will seem after the 2016 CES – the real tech news will be these long-distance and unwelcome invaders from afar, redirecting gadgets on the show floor.

Five new technologies that can help older adults and their families

Some tech companies don’t see the senior market as an opportunity. They are the Peter Pan tech firms, the ones in which no one (including the customer) ever ages (you might know them as Facebook, Apple, Google, and Twitter). Meanwhile, from Nashville, France, and Germany, others see inclusion and extra services as good business, maybe because this market is pretty much ignored by the gang of four. Here are five companies that vary a platform or a product to make it more useful for an older adult market or service. – All material is derived from the vendor websites or press releases:

Medical Alerts -- seller and comparison sites mislead

The medical alert industry chugs on…and websites mislead.  [Rant on] Fear-based medical alert marketing enjoys robust web traffic, an enhancement to its senior-centric TV advertising. Searchers with an at-risk family member or who saw an older woman at the bottom of a TV staircase can find a plethora of matches. That particular you-know-who staircase vendor was founded in 1987 and salvaged a slogan from a defunct originator, adding the word 'help' in its next trademarked life. But by now, shouldn’t this market have been transformed by technology or undergone a business model change that would mandate a new name?  Well, it truly was transformed by a technology – SEO. Go ahead, Google the term. The not-so-medical alert is an SEO marvel, injecting old content with fresh dates. As you scan the list, note multi-device review sites that appear to be pay-to-play, whether they are or not.

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Apple’s launch: how about something for US seniors?

Apple launch – the mountain shuddered.  Apple is a phone company – the majority of their revenue comes from the iPhone, now to be sold directly on 24-month $32 payment plans – never mind having to buy that $768 phone from those pesky carriers.  There were plenty of excited selfies taken at the big event – read this nasty review to get a fresh (that is, not fawning) perspective from a writer who owns all Apple products, ironically. So what was new from the phone company?  A smarter Siri, a camera that catches up with Samsung, a tablet similar to Microsoft Surface, and 3D touch  -- enabling an activity within device context, so from the home screen, now you can launch straight into selfie mode. But this 3D touch might have been be the most useful feature for older adults with any hand tremor – it enables a deliberate pressure versus accidental swipe – the bane of devices that lost their buttons (and pressure sensitivity) years ago. Note cell phones ‘designed’ for seniors.  Note the read-the-manual response on Apple’s Support site about use of the iPhone for seniors used to flip phones.


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Sleep, bed sensors and the Internet of Caring Things

How retro: Bed sensors come into the mainstream.  These days, we seem to be really obsessed with tracking our sleep. Or rather, tech firms like Samsung want to track our sleep with their tech. SLEEPSense will give you a sleep score (Yay!) and even turn off the TV if you've fallen asleep while watching. That's why they invested in EarlySense, an Israeli company, and made an effort to learn ways to improve sleep quality. But this isn't really new:  tech trying to improve sleep has been around the wearables market for a while, along with white noise generators and the like. BamLabs, for example, was noted (or notable) at least four years ago with its bed sensor offering.


Hearing loops change public experience for hearing impaired – but are they deployed?

Getting into the hearing loop arena.  Again a chance to note -- the dramatic enhancement of sound for hearing aid wearers in a looped setting -- that is, a room enhanced with a telecoil loop transmitter -- in a public environment.  The cost, according to the writer, ranges from a few thousand dollars to $130,000 for the entire airport.The result?


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