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Laurie Orlov's blog

Five New Technology Offerings for Older Adults

Long ago in a city far, far away, there was CES 2020.  It was filled with tech from wall-to-wall and bus ride to bus ride.  CES 2020 was a January 2020 nightmare of related products sited at opposite ends of convention space that seemed to span miles in one direction, and up elevators to suites in the opposite direction. A competition winner here, a spotlight on hearing there,  health tech herethere a robot,  there a drone – everywhere a bus ride and 170,000 people. Leaving with sore feet and tired brain, vowing never to attend in person again (having said that multiple times over the years).  Who knew that Covid-19 was about to take over the world -- and with it, the world of events?  Soon there will be CES 2021, entirely online -- no smoke-filled hotels, no Bellagio fountain, and no need for comfortable shoes. There should be many to note in January 2021.  Meanwhile, pre-CES, here are five recently surfaced.  All content is drawn from the company websites.

Not just older adults – everyone lost the tech user interface war

Once upon a time, a new technology user interface was just annoying.   It’s almost quaint to look back at what we complained about – though some of the famous user interface disasters are well-described in a Scientific American article – Windows 8, BMW iDrive, TV remotes.  At some point, the user gets mad. The BMW iDrive example prompted some drivers to turn around and bring the car back to the showroom.  Consider the whining from this site in 2012 about smartphones and again in 2013. But a poor UI doesn’t always guarantee poor sales. It’s quaint to read the complaint about the Apple Watch interface, which is quite annoying and 100% dependent on a smartphone app. But it may turn out to be Apple’s most popular product (30 million sold in 2019) and enjoys great popularity in 2020.  Furthermore, its fall detection validated the market transition of caregiving smart watches replacing PERS pendants.

The Digital Divide -- Why haven't all older adults crossed it?

A hot topic now – crossing the so-called ‘Digital Divide’.  It’s ironic – the topic has been under discussion forever. Long ago, in a world far, far, away – it was easy for the oldest to say that they don’t see the benefit in technology, Internet access or other devices.  That was pre-pandemic of course. In 2020, the divide looks like a chasm, depending on how it is viewed. What will close it?  What is the missing link? More training?  Discounted devices?  Free Internet?  Grandchildren photos?  Worsening social isolation?  Telehealth visits?  And do we mean ‘Digital Divide’ – or do we really mean Internet Access Divide? Or is it the smartphone ownership divide? The how-do-I-use-this-thing divide? And what does it mean for one's life to be on the wrong side?

Four Technology and Aging Blog Posts from November 2020

November revealed a growing sense of urgency about older adults. What has been the impact on them of the daily onslaught of Covid-19 statistics? What about nine months of ceaseless updates about case counts? Has this produced a permanent fear of contact with others, including families, especially on holidays? Public-private partnerships are forming to bring devices and products to older adults, now isolated for as much as 9 months. Will that help? Tech firms are trying to boost access to the internet and devices – will this become 2021 action priority for non-profits and government? And much more will be different for an older population – the real seniors, aged 75+, perhaps previously unnoticed by media. In fact, older adults have often been ignored by marketers even as boomers have all the money.  Here are four blog posts from November:

Five technologies for older adults November 2020

November – the month for giving thanks -- remotely.  It was a strange Thanksgiving for many – staying (stuck?) in place with Zoom, FaceTime -- and few place settings. Worse, for many older adults, isolation is a worsening health issue that we will hear more about as shutdowns continue and shut-in becomes the virtual norm.  In November, a long report (the third of 2020) called The Future of Remote Care Technology and Older Adults was published, the result of 30 interviews with executives from organizations large and very small. Here are five companies drawn from the report and beyond – all material is from the company websites:

Aging and Health Technology Watch 2020 Research – A Recap

A year that saw little travel but it was a good time to write.   Most would agree that this year was not what we expected.  Instead of continuing with business and event travel into March, HIMSS was canceled at the last minute and converted to a virtual event.  And so it went, for Argentum events and many other summits. And so it remains a virtual world.  So 2020 was a year that produced 5 white papers and three long research reports emerge – normally not feasible with so much here-and-there travel. By comparison, in 2019 one report, the 2019 Market Overview, was published, along with 2 long and 4 short white papers, listed under Research.  Here are the reports – looking forward to 2021!

Consider Amazon’s role in the caregiving and older adult market

It’s already been a big year for new Amazon offerings that could benefit older people.   This month’s most obvious change was the introduction of Amazon Care Hub, an Alexa app that can be used to help monitor potentially isolated older adults.  But they also have done more work on Amazon Hospitality in partnership with K4Connect (which has rolled out 10,000 Alexa devices to senior living communities).  One might well argue that Amazon has and will continue to have a major impact on the quality of life for older adults (assuming senior privacy concerns and technology barriers to adoption are overcome – more on that another time):

Remote Care Technology and Older Adults - Filling in the basics 2020

Technology was essential for many adults stuck at home during the pandemic, providing some social connection, access to online shopping, home delivery services, and requests for transportation. But it also became apparent that some older adults were shut out from these due to limitations in vision, hearing, dexterity, and even dementia.  And for some, technologies were not affordable – median income of a household age 75+ is $34,925. Yet it is also becoming apparent that organizations that serve older adults realize that gaps exist. They are  increasingly motivated and will strive to ramp up efforts to deliver a greater degree of access than the numbers show today. What are the key dimensions that need to be addressed moving forward?

Four technology and aging blog posts from October 2020

October 2020 -- when the fall travel season never started. And the unthinkable has become normal. These days it seems like businesses only congregate in Zoom-like rooms. But despite that, product announcements and innovations appear despite the missing in-person fanfare.  The 30+ research report interviews are complete and the writing begun for "The Future of Remote Care Technology and Older Adults." The goal -- publish in early December in conjunction with the What's Next Longevity Innovation Summit -- normally held in Washington, this year all online. Here are four blog posts from October, including the key themes from the research report: 

Tech-enabled Home Care Redux? Do investors remember 2016?

What’s up with investing in home care and technology?  Some recent announcements offer almost the same frothy level of investment that characterized the 2016 investor spending spree, neatly noted in a 2016 Forbes article. The Forbes list included the $157 million poured into Care.com, unfortunately revealing a shocking lack of company oversight of care workers in 2019.  Home Care Assistance received $100 million in 2016. In fact, 2013-2017 saw the rise, rise, and then fall of Home Hero – which raised $18 million (closing in 2017) and Hometeam’s $40 million in 2016. 

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