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Market Overview for Technology for Aging in Place

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cell phones, smartphones

Four technology (health and aging) blog posts from August 2018

Vacations and out of office messages – it must have been August.  Some have said that there is no point in attempting a business meeting, even online, for August. Perhaps you were one of the 5 million visitors to Cape Cod, roaming the hillside vineyards in California or attending an antique car auction on the coast of Maine.  Having managed to pull off two of those three in the same month, it’s not that crazy. But there were issues, disruptions and sizable opportunities worth noting in August, the biggest one was Best Buy's purchase of GreatCall, just six weeks after Amazon acquired PillPack, the latest big company acquisition -- part of a to-be-continued series important to families and providers of care to seniors. Here are the blog posts from the month:

Robocalls and scams -- a phone-based war against us all

Many years ago, when the phone rang, we eagerly picked it up.  That was then. For good or ill, families want to text, message and chat. And the phone call has turned into a source of harassment and scams. Robocalling is a modern torment, sometimes multiple back-to-back dials from the same source, often spoofing our own cell phone numbers – where answering the phone puts us on a ‘sucker list’ sold to other scammers. Is it Rachel from Cardmember Services or the IRS Phone Scam,  a fake carpet cleaning offer or worse, the disabled veterans scam, or the grandparent 'this is your grandson' scam

Best Buy Acquires GreatCall – What’s it Mean for Best Buy?

First take – this links together multiple Best Buy initiatives, starting in 2011.   Look at the history of Best Buy. First a dabble with the now departed Wellcore in 2011 – clearly the time was not right – the oldest baby boomer turned 72 in 2018, but at 65 in 2010, consumers could not comprehend the utility of a wearable fall detector. But Best Buy executives saw the opportunity and decided to learn more.  More significant in 2011, Best Buy became a founding consortium member in a ‘living lab’ Charter House in Rochester, Minnesota (along with Mayo Clinic). "We believe technology has the potential to foster healthy, productive lives by enabling easier access to information and medical care," says Kurt Hulander, then senior director of health platforms at Best Buy.  

Best Buy Acquires GreatCall, A Leading Connected Health Services Provider

08/15/2018

Minneapolis, August 15, 2018 – Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE: BBY), a leading technology products and services provider, today announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire GreatCall, Inc. for $800 million in cash.  

The more technology changes, the more some categories will remain

The more things change… Life expectancy is long – tech attention span from investors and innovators can be short.  Reviewing the past 10 years of blog posts (from 2008 until 2018), in the beginning, consider the categories and innovations. To mitigate social isolation, for example, note the video phone and the printing mailbox. The objective was to communicate with grandma or grandpa, who might be bereft of email – or for that matter, WiFi, Skype, tablet, smartphone, PC or MAC. Imagine the blissful simplicity or those times -- for the grandparents.  Largely forgotten now --  Mailbug, BigKeys – and printing mailboxes Presto and fax-machine based MyCelery. But the PERS market, around since 1975 in the US, has repeatedly been predicted to be obsolete and about to be replaced with something else.

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:  

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