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computers, broadband, and social networking

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computers, broadband, and social networking

2011's AARP prediction for older adults: technology to live your best life

An old report, the core concept of Connected Living was excellent and predictive.  Thirteen years ago, AARP sponsored research that posed questions about technology’s future role in connecting older adults with families, resources and each other. With input from 30 industry experts, the research attempted to determine how technology could better serve older adults moving forward. The result was a 2011 report called Connected Living for Social Aging: Designing Technology for All. You won’t find it on AARP’s website – it’s too old.  But it is very interesting, especially given that year's low technology adoption and extremely limited use among older adults compared to today. The report accurately predicted the major role technology would take in their lives as they aged, though experts were not exactly sure how.

Press Release: New report, The User Experience Needs an Upgrade

06/13/2024

Baby boomers and beyond increasingly depend on technology -- but using it has become a chore of fragmentation across devices and websites.

As the pace of inevitable tech change collides with an aging demographic, firms will need to seek user input, especially in healthcare. Accessibility features will become standard technology features.”

— Laurie Orlov

Our future tech interactions mandate personalized user experiences

The mindset of ‘get the product out the door’ sets the stage for poor user experience. For market researchers, there are many data-driven ways to gauge consumer preferences today, and tech companies can chose among surveys, interviews, focus groups and customer observation. Product life cycles in newer tech categories are shrinking, with consumers willing to replace devices that still work with newer models, hence the apparent ‘Ready, Fire, Aim’ tech cycle. In the future, we will need a new paradigm for tech user experience that can span our multiple interactions, driven by an opt-in profile about preferences and personal characteristics that can better shape interactions.  We will expect that our profile will drive technology access. Today’s fragmented tech experience offers behaviors based on a disconnected set of profiles – a Starbucks profile knows what coffee I like, a Gmail profile knows about my Inbox preferences, and Marriott knows what kind of room or bed is preferred. In the future and with the assistance of conversational AI, the user should be able to override those and specify a profile that spans all tech interactions, acting as a complexity-hiding agent on the user’s behalf.  

For big tech, "Ready, Fire, Aim" design approaches are user-hostile

What happens when engineers believe that no matter what, the customers will buy? Rant on. Look at the forum discussions of problems after Apple’s release in November, or consider Google’s Gemini self-humiliation.  Will users turn in their iPhones in disgust? Stop using Gmail in protest? What about the Tesla that is so cool it does not have to identify clearly how to open the door, or put the car into drive or reverse? Was the car returned? Will customers return a device they don’t understand? Consider Windows 11 updates are tormenting users, again per Microsoft’s own forum. Will people give up using the PC? Not likely. 

Did you miss one? March blogs lament deteriorating user experience

The decline of design.  As interviews proceed for the upcoming report, The Future of the Tech User Experience, all agree.  The deteriorating user experience, aka UX, is the result of fragmentation across multiple devices, portals, and websites. Product development has superseded UX. The pre-development focus group has been largely abandoned in favor of a post release shock-and-awe experience both for developers (bad PR) and customers (just plain bad).  And it is not just tech – consider the impenetrable smart TV interface, the microwave button-display combination, the new car that lacks readable warning lights and other user interface issues.  Here are the blog posts from March:

The tech user experience today – the customer does not matter 

Has the  tech user experience substantially improved?  For years device and software tech ‘improved’ to a point of widespread optimism about our tech future. Certainly access has improved: Ninety-five percent of Americans use the Internet and more than 80% have broadband at home. Today there are numerous programs to subsidize access, and   smartphone penetration has exceeded 92%.  One would believe this ubiquity of access might make us hopeful that we are now in the era of tech helping consumers of all ages, no matter what task or level of knowledge.  

Could conversational AI help the tech user experience?

Tech user experiences are deteriorating at a rapid rate – for all.  If you have encountered any of the following, you know.  The absurdity of two-factor authentication within a single device, long complex passwords, five years of remembered password history to prevent re-use.  And that’s before you have logged into a site that could simply be a news media or site or Gmail that just wants to display insulting and absurd ads now that you have been ‘authenticated’. Or you can examine the behavior of the same software applications across multiple devices.  You may have noticed that scam innovation is beginning to outpace the product development cycles in other categories – (although some scammers seem able to be scammed themselves).

The user experience with Google: You are the product for better or worse

Consider Google and its tightly coupled products.  You launch the search engine on your phone and are surprised to see all of these ‘news’ items about local topics that have appeared in your Gmail inbox. How personalized. A few years ago, a $395 million settlement with 40 states was reached about Google’s lack of clarity about its location tracking, which users thought they had turned off in settings. An apology followed, along with many more lawsuits and fines, including some large ones in Europe. Did anything change? Not really.  In 2024, as a result of European pressure, Google announced how to disconnect some ‘Linked Services’ in Europe, a euphemism for passing your data (you) from one Google product to another, a feature that may appear in the US one day, though will it really change anything? Doubtful.

2024 Market Overview Technology for Aging, January, 2024

This report was revised in January of 2024. It was updated to reflect trends, demographic data about older adults, policy changes, new products and services as well as inclusion of available data about what tech they own and/or prefer. The final section with examples includes 30 offerings and services new for this report, indicated by **.

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