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hearables/hearing technology

The Future of Wearables and Older Adults 2021

Wearables are new to most older adults in 2021. But that will change in the coming years as broad market acceptance drives interest among the 65+ population. Adoption will grow as the price points become more affordable; and most important, as the data from wearables becomes more actionable, informative, and predictive of future change. Within five years, doctors will see the benefit in guiding older adults to their usage. Chronic disease monitoring through wearables will see the most substantial growth.

Five Trends Driving Potential of Wearables and Older Adults

Wearables are nothing new – except in how they are used.  The Quantified Self movement, coined as a term in Wired in 2007, simply described the growing interest in tracking those personal characteristics that could be recorded and analyzed by the user of wearable technology. From activity trackers that gained popularity in the past decade, to introduction of smart watches by Apple in 2015, the adoption of wearables by older adults has continued to grow.  New products fuel interest about their potential for older adult health-related benefit, such as the Oura Ring, the Apple Watch Series 6 and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 Active, or the Bose SoundControl hearing aid.

Four Aging and Health Technology Blog Posts from March 2021

March was an unusually innovative age tech month – now let’s get organized.  What did it all mean? Here’s a thought about this market, where the beneficiary of an innovation is an older adult, and the innovation could improve quality of life. A federal agency (or other national entity) could help individuals and organizations find a product that is needed with a product/service registry.  A government agency could start a registry of these products/services – this one with staying power. You might remember AbleData – a product registry of 40,000 mobility aids and assistive technologies. It was conceived in 1982 and  rolled into the responsibility of a federal agency in 1984, now part of the Administration for Community Living.  What happened? Its useful website lasted more than 35 years. Then in 2020 it was abruptly shut down – with no further explanation - a caution for the next age tech registry. Here are the four blog posts from March 2020:

Hearing aids, the elderly, and listening to music

Hearing aids and music -- why is this so difficult to solve for the elderly?  The pandemic isolated everyone, but it may have been even worse for the hearing-impaired. Consider the oldest -- they are aged 85 or 86, love music and enjoy getting together with others in restaurants. The man loses one of the uninsured hearing aids and has to switch to backups that emit whistles or screeches, and cannot hear accurate sounds from a grand piano. The replacement cost of the single hearing aid is $2195 bundled with audiologist assistance. That pair worked well with his TVlink unit – enabling him to hear the TV at the right volume, and his spouse to listen at the broadcast volume. The older woman is isolated during restaurant lunch time conversation because she can’t sort out who is speaking – she is described as ‘looking lost’.  She also has a piano she won’t play because of hearing aid sound distortion.  Both can easily afford the best hearing aids, service, and guidance available. Both are frustrated at their inability to fully mitigate these issues.

Ten technology offerings for older adults from CES 2021

CES 2021 – roll the press releases and turn on your computer.  A long time ago, one writer published a charmingly-named CES overview of CES 2012 called CES in Pajamas – an entertaining read with links to 2012 videos just to see what flopped, what was canceled (remember  Microsoft Kinect?) and what/who is still around. Laptops were hot (remember the Ultrabook?) Voice First and the Apple Watch had not emerged.  Oh well. Fast forward to 2021. Pajama-like clothing is the only way to consume the content vastness of this entirely online Consumer Electronics Show with 500 exhibits, 70,000 registered attendees, and 3 full days of sessions, many pre-recorded, some live.  Too many press releases and some odd stuff (a rollable Smart phone?)  Here are a few useful to older adults, alphabetical from firm sites:

From the 2021 Market Overview Technology for Aging

It's 2021 and baby boomers turn 75. It took the combination of 71 million boomers, a pandemic emergency, and the sheer size of the aging population to transform a 2009 market niche into this 2021 market category worthy of investment-- less about products specifically designed for older adults as it is about the marketing of many existing offerings as useful to them.  But this is January, 2021, in the time of Covid-19 and the time of the all digital Consumer Electronics Show -- this time with at least 70,000 online attendees from around the world and the tech industry -- and so new companies are surfacing with technologies that will generate interest and even excitement during 2021. The entrants that can help older adults fit into categories like:

Selected tech trends from upcoming 2021 Market Overview

Looking ahead to 2021 -- pre-CES, what trends will persist?  So that's just about enough of 2020 -- a year worth putting behind us, if ever there was one. Much creativity and stopgap solutions were the signs of the Covid-19 times.  There was an awakening about older adults as targets of ageism and victims of social isolation, true. But there was also an awakening to the significance of aging in place, the investment category of older adults, the market power of older adults, including the 65+ population of 54 million. And who knew that the fastest growing subsegment was those aged 80+?  Innovators in 2020 helped mitigate social isolation, enable in-home strength training for seniors, provided the tech mechanics (regardless of infrastructure) to connect older adults to families? All that and more make up the new entrants in the 2021 Market Overview of Technology for Aging.

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