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Market Overview for Technology for Aging in Place

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Look back at innovation competitions to help older adults

Competitions abound – all need groundwork.  Just a few years ago you might have noticed that there were few business plan competitions for products and services targeting the older adult market (the Silicon Valley Boomer Venture Summit begun by Mary Furlong in 2004 was a rare exception.)  When its Letter of Intent page appeared at the end of 2011, CMS innovation grant applications included technology submissions behind the scenes, in partnership with non-profits and healthcare delivery organizations. Then came the $1 billion round two announced in December 2014 – and with that, multiple other tech solutions were included to help deliver significant changes, including health information exchanges, patient engagement, the emerging field of population health, and today’s CMS reimbursement for telehealth.  With these approvals, CMS effectively laid the groundwork for many of the firms that compete today in health segments.

2015: From Niche to Norm -- Technology for Aging in Place

What is the line between a distinct product market and tech customization?  In 2009 when the original Market Overview was published, the search began to identify the small group of entrepreneurs focused on serving seniors – from the AirGuru SV1 Video Phone and Big Screen Live all the way to WellAware and Wellcore.  Why note such a market, you might ask? All of those companies and many others had the heart and focus to try to craft something usable by and for an older adult. In many cases these were inventions compensating for a gap in care and oversight, but most often filling a gap in internet access and/or usability of devices and software.

The WSJ readers are boomers -- someone should tell the tech writers

The Wall Street Journal thinks that tech will change your life. Perhaps it will even rock your 2015.  Rocking their 2015 is just the kind of experience that WSJ readers -- average age of 57 -- really want.  But the Journal, ever hopeful for pushing down the subscriber age into the ad world's desirable 20’s and 30’s, hopes that the readers will be as excited as their current breathless tech columnists Fowler and Stern. So they want its boomer audience to grasp How to Get Ready. But of course! Starting with Windows 10 – which will have a resurrected Start menu and yes, it will improve multi-tasking – by the fall of 2015. Now aren't you excited?

The fallacy of age as a predictor of future Digital Health adoption

Today's older adults will not get a 'check engine light for their body.' Investors in innovation worry when utilization of technology doesn't match hyper-hysterical investment pace.  So it is with Digital Health. Buried beneath broad and unclear definitions, how about that 'check engine light' metaphor -- reset it yourself, go ahead! Vague and hyper-funded, Digital Health, says Startup Health, received up to $5 billion investment just in 2014. Still there's bit of whining about startups starting but users not adopting. So what's the solution?  Don't critique investment decisions, bad product ideas and those dual dilemmas of doctor and patient disinterest.  See VC Tom Rodgers push the predicted adoption date out another 15-20 years and at the same time criticize the non-tech literacy of the old and sick of today. Says he: Digital Health will go mainstream when millennials are older and sicker.

There they go again -- the media sneers about 'Grandma' and technology

Fast Company marks a trend -- let's stereotype older adults as Grandma.  Rant on. The latest article title was the last straw. Undoubtedly, as with the others, it was selected by young headline writers: "…the next hot market for wearable tech -- Grandma." Never mind that much of the tech wasn't wearable -- this one pushed me over the edge. So I looked around for other examples because I have seen it so many times -- there was the Huffington Post, 'reconstructing Grandma' and Amazon -- 'Grandma Talks Tech (baby boomers take to iPads too!)'. And Popular Mechanics -- 'smart tech will take care of Grandma.'

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