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Washington, DC, December, 11-14, 2017

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Market Overview for Technology for Aging in Place

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baby boomers

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baby boomers

Launching your boomer/senior, health tech product in 2014

Don’t quit your day job just yet – do the homework first.  Starting a new company in the boomer/senior, mHealth/Digital Health tech space? I hear fairly regularly from those who have this intent.  Maybe they have a prototype they have created. When I don’t hear first, sometimes I catch who they are through the modern-day miracle of Google Alerts. So maybe we chat, maybe I take a look at a website, learn how they are going about getting their funding, and I ask if they know about products that may be similar to what they are doing.  Or have they browsed online catalogs, or spoken to non-profits (if that is one of the target audiences).  Have they studied market sizings and surveys from Nielsen to Pew to the exuberant Semico Research? And so on.  So here’s an updated set of advice for the pre-early stage:

Health-related smartphone apps -- not ready for prime time

Our smartphones, ourselves – are they useful for managing our own health? In 2009, Eric Topol, the wireless health medical prognosticator, noted that 'we would soon use our smart phones to monitor our chronic conditions.'  Well, maybe – it all depends on what he meant by 'soon.' App developers are obviously struggling to identify a) an app that is useful and b) who the cohort is that would use it. Should you count recording weight, keeping food logs and tracking exercise as 'monitoring' a chronic condition?  It might be more useful to put a smartphone in your pocket (assuming it fits) than to get a grip on another wearable but easily-lost small device. Take a look at the wearable band market and non-usage by the 55+.   Note the easily-lost Fitbit (my sister has lost 3, I have long lost 2) in this Verizon Boomer Voice blog.  

Tracking the trackers -- the need for Boomer Health Tech Watch

Digital health tech is the answer – but what are the questions? What new gadgets and apps can make consumers take better care of their own health?  What are the gadgets and apps that help doctors take care of consumers?  Let’s assume that the combination of tech that helps consumers and doctors equals Digital Health.  In this emerging world, do doctors encourage consumers to give these new apps and gadgets a try? What is the digital technology uptake among the worried well and the not-so-well boomer population – a giant and amorphous demographic blob that some marketers want to cultivate.  Even if we added those modifiers that help divide boomers into cohorts – words like caregiving, wealthy, unmarried, educated, grandparents, rural -- it is a challenge for innovators to peer through the just right Digital Health lens and see clearly who is targeted, what they need, and who will pay for the next new thing.

Work and jobs -- where is the Studs Terkel of today?

Will the next mid-life crisis be at 75?  Sixty is the new sixty, says Marc Freedman. Attending a recent event, I was an audience member exhorted to consider the ever-greater expansion of time available to make sure that it is time well-lived. What does that mean in the context of life’s purpose, whether we are prepared to competently approach our very long retirement years with not-enough-saved or will we have an encore career or two? He quoted the comment of an older adult about their potentially very long future: "I’m on my next-to-last dog." Working part time – is that a next-to-last career? Volunteering – is that a career?  In one session I heard the word 'work' used for effort that is "paid or unpaid."  How mangled is our language that volunteering without pay is now called working?

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