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Market Overview for Technology for Aging in Place

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cell phones, smartphones

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cell phones, smartphones

Technology design for all -- predicted in 2011, in-market in 2018

A long time ago (7 years this month) in a tech world far, far away, a report sponsored by then-AARP executive Jody Holtzman predicted that technology change would deliver a new user experience. The concept was referred to as "Technology Design for All" --  defined as 'User experiences that appeal to all age groups, persisting across versions and devices.'  According to the report Connected Living for Social Aging, which was published 7 years ago this month, the future was predicted. It is worth a look back -- note that it did happen just as described. Consider smart speakers (the Echo was launched in 2014), IoT boxes, phones, tablets, PCs, Macs and all cloud-based software.   These work without the need to download and upgrade on Patch Tuesday, though privacy improvements are the next big technology hurdle.  From the report, with the chart giving an italicized nod to tech of 2018:  

2018: What technology matters for older adults?

Technology utilization among older adults grew.  According to Pew Research, smartphone adoption in particular grew among older adults.  Interestingly in a later survey, those with Amazon Echo or Google Home devices and apps used their smartphones less.  Self-driving technology was a big topic in 2017, much of the hype including mention of benefits for older adults.  Still not clear why an Uber driving itself is better than a Lyft or Uber with a driver – unless it is the well-publicized incidents about Uber drivers.

Five 2018 technology opportunities in tech for older adults

2017 was an interesting year -- 2018 should overcome a few obstacles.  Probably the most significant innovation during 2017 was the growth of the Voice First technology market -- but judging by the aisles of gadgets in places like Best Buy, everything else is changing as well. CES is next week, and with it more speakers, TVs, and gadgetry than is seen in Best Buy or anywhere else during the year.  But even as technology leapfrogs and crawls forward, obstacles to broad adoption for older adults remain. Hopefully interest in mitigating social isolation among older adults will lead to the role technology could play. But to make a real difference, here's a look at five areas for improvement in 2018:

Consider the White Paper -- it lasts more than a moment in time

Consider the white paper -- more content than a tweet or blog post. White papers have long been viewed as content marketing vehicles, intended to showcase a product or concept relevant to the firm’s customers and prospects. According to Jonathan Kantor, a 15-year white paper marketing veteran, "white papers can be used to generate sales leads, establish thought leadership, make a business case, or inform and persuade." Experts note that even in the age of Twitter and social media, white papers still matter; they can be fulfilled from website registrations, tweeted, or emailed to prospects. They can also take up long-term residence on a a firm's website. White papers may offer content that educates (not sells), expanding on an idea or a point of view as well as a product or service. Here are summaries of five researched white papers that were published in 2017, with the newest first, plus links back to the sponsoring company:

It's the season: Considering tech gifts for older adults

Warning -- this is not a blog post about what to give.  There are plenty of click-bait websites, like 5 Cool Gifts or 25 Great Tech Gifts or even a list described as "The Perfect Gifts for Grandma and Grandpa" -- really? Maybe these are the perfect gifts – or perhaps for some family members, the FirstStreet list is appropriate. Among all of these lists, there might be some intriguing items that might be welcome. And don’t forget a set of portable batteries – extremely useful for devices during power outages. Okay that is enough about the What – and For Whom.  

Amplified and Captioned Phones Featured in New Publication from Harris Communications

11/07/2017

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minnesota –November 7, 2017 –  Harris Communications, Inc., a leading supplier of affordable hearing loss solutions, recently published a new brochure highlighting amplified phones and captioned phones for the hard of hearing. View a digital copy of the brochure at http://bit.ly/2y60xJJ.

Devices – Behold the Magnitude of Sound, Picture, Video

Voice first – and voice everywhere.  You may be hearing it – will 50% of all searches soon (2020) be by voice?  Makes you shudder thinking about restaurants and airport gates.  In fact, voice interactions are already all around us. Although estimates vary widely, consider the 18.8 million Amazon Echo and 15.7 million Google Home devices possibly sold.   Or count Siri listening on the 85 million iPhones, or 107 million Android phones all listening if you enable them. Oh, and you use the appropriate wake word for the device (Hey! Okay! Hello! Alexa!).Hopefully you don't hear all devices simultaneously saying "I didn’t understand that" or reading you a long Wikipedia entry just in case.

For boomers, there is no such thing as keeping up with tech change

When boomers are 84 – there will be no keeping up. Just the same as when they are 64.  Many boomers disagree with that statement, finding it insulting or pessimistic or both. They will repeat plaintively that baby boomers are very different than their parents’ generation. They are comfortable with technology. See how many have smartphones! They text, use Facebook and YouTube.  Many book travel online, read TripAdvisor reviews, and even call for car pickups with an app!  So what’s the problem? Tech change is occurring faster than boomers at 64 or 84 will want to use. Groups of people who used to participate in one social network will leave in 11 million-at-a-time droves and without explanation.  And, as with Facebook, the departed will include your children and grandchildren who left to use Instagram and Snapchat. They will leave without notice – the social network equivalent of changing a phone number – with parent/grandparent only learning about it when they tried to place a (now-obsolete) phone call. Eventually they will also leave those tools behind, and so on and so forth.

Innovation today: Making tech you don’t want, can’t use or doesn’t work

Rant on.  Forcing tech onto the customer is standard operating procedure for companies. Because of advertiser pressure, for example, we have to make an effort to stop auto-playing videos in news feeds, news sites, ads, etc. – completely missing the possibility that the viewer might be staring at a smartphone in the train’s quiet car, or up early when a spouse is still asleep.  Or worse, the news feed shows a video that no one should ever see --but has yet to be taken down by one of the 3000 take-it-down new hires

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