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Market Overview for Technology for Aging in Place

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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?

Redfin's best cities for technology-assisted living -- you can't make this up

You would have to read this to believe.  RANT ON.  It pains me to actually link to the original article, because that was, of course, this real estate company’s goal – so this link is to the link that has the link.  Nela Richardson, the first chief economist with hot real estate website Redfin, has announced that cities with Uber, Rover, Porch, Instacart and CareLinx provide the most economical and 'tech-enabled' alternatives to assisted living.  How’d that get calculated, you might ask? Seniors or their caregivers "would have at least $1,500 each month to spend [after accounting for the mortgage] on the cost of services booked through Uber, Rover, Porch, Instacart and Carelinx versus the $5,933 it would take to live in an assisted living facility."

Four recent technology announcements that benefit older adults

AARP announced the launch of its AARP TEK Academy.  “This is a free, easy-to-use online classroom designed to help 50-plus Americans get the most out of technology to connect with family and friends, explore employment opportunities, access health information, enjoy entertainment and more. Located at AARPTEK.org, the site can be accessed from a variety of devices, including smartphones, tablets, laptops or desktops and offers dozens of tutorials on a range of helpful topics, from social media to staying safe online. AARP TEK (which stands for Technology Education and Knowledge) launched last year offering hands-on workshops in select cities to empower the 50-plus audience to use technology to live their best lives. The TEK Academy is the latest offering as part of this program.”  Learn more at AARP TEK.

Excess capacity in senior housing -- why won't consumers move in?

Builders like to build – and investors like it too.  Does it surprise anyone that there may turn out to be unoccupied senior housing units in the future? That the supply may have been overbuilt for the level of future baby boomer enthusiasm for this type of housing?  "The occupancy rate for all senior housing in 31 major markets fell this spring for the second consecutive quarter." And shares "have tumbled down" in the real estate companies that, interestingly, continue to build. So what’s going on? Certainly, the old refrain of '10,000 baby boomers turning 65 every day' (beginning in 2011) has not proven to be a market strategy.

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Listen up – will new pricing of data plans further limit seniors?

If you don’t like the way carriers serve older adults, just wait, it could get worse.   A few months ago we learned that carriers are pushing tablets, ha! Just as tablet sales overall are slowing. Carriers obviously read that Gartner report about slowing tablet sales -- and then 'encouraged' us to add a tablet to a plan for $10/month for up to 5GB of data. How generous. That’s not a lot of movies, maybe 2.5 hours of streaming HD per month. But what plan? How to encourage data usage with wireless data plans? No problem, those have all changed, with AT&T following T-Mobile and Verizon aping AT&T. And all of this following the precedent long set in Europe – now the full price of the phone is disclosed ($650 for an iPhone!). You could buy the phone upfront, but not to worry – there’s a monthly installment plan for the list price phone.

Pew report reveals 17 million seniors disconnected from the utility of the Internet

First the numbers – good news, sort of. The latest in Pew posting headline in the news misleads. Period. Who’s Not Online -- about Internet adoption – reports the change in online use since the year 2000. The text works hard on enthusiasm and a bit of 'game over' in terms of saturation: 84% of adults are now online! Saturation for some groups! Considerably higher than in 2000!  Note the 'on the other hand' age-related caveat: "About four-in-ten adults ages 65 and older (39%) do not use the internet, compared with only 3% of 18- to 29-year-olds."  Education is a factor (more educated, more online, no kidding). Where you live (less rural, more online). But there’s the neon punch line: "Adults from households earning less than $30,000 a year are roughly eight times more likely than the most affluent adults to not use the internet."

Consumers lose: medical hacking, 911 failure, Google rules

Ho hum – another day, another few million records are hacked. Rant on. It’s a small hack really, only 4.5 million impacted by the UCLA Medical System cyber attack. But what a relief, the impacted individuals will receive identity theft recovery and restoration services and credit monitoring at no cost. That category of service firm is buying plenty of ads all around and may be one of the boom businesses of 2015.  Because of course the 4.5 million must be added to the 22 million Federal government individuals and the 80 million Anthem Blue Cross individuals -- for starters.  And the solution?  A new services industry emerges with vendors popping up in every flavor. As for fines for those that let the data get out of the bag? As for the notorious insurance industry leader, Anthem (first quarter net income $865.2 million) has received a fine of $1.7 million – but fines for data breaches remain rare.

Five technology announcements from the 2015 White House Conference on Aging

WHCoA attracted buzz, hopeful announcements and new offerings.  This event was a follow-on to the previous every-decade White House Conferences on Aging -- the most recent of which was the 3-day 2005 White House Conference on Aging. That conference was developed in a hopeful and financially booming time in the US -- its focus was on the pending retirement of the baby boom generation. Today, the economy is not sizzling and since 60 is now the new 50, many of those boomers have not yet retired. Or they've retired from -- or lost -- one job and are now starting a business. The 2005 conference was the first one that had an exhibit hall devoted to technology. This conference was less about a place and more about regional meetings viewings/discussions of the topics and this single day event.   However there were a number of tech-related announcements released in conjunction, including:

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