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robotics

So wrong: Japan’s hope for the tech-enabled and robotic aging life

Remember the Cyberdine demo of HAL at ASA some years ago? The Hybrid Assistive Limb (HAL) was designed by a venture firm in Japan to help a wheelchair-bound individual stand and move. It was very cool. It was priced at that time (2009) at around $5000. By 2014, the device could be rented for the equivalent of $1400/month. And now it has again been modified. This time, according to the WSJ article about Japanese demographics, the country needs its older laborers to work substantially longer. So a 67-year-old worker in the construction industry can stack wood just like someone half his age. Yay. And then there is the charming Pepper robot, selling for an equivalent of $1600, leading recreational activities in senior housing, charming the residents. In Japan, 13% of the population is 75+, and in another statistic, 15% of the 'elderly' population has dementia.

CES 2015 Part 3 of 3 – Six more innovations useful for older adults

So many companies, so much press.  So far, even though the gadget gadfly media has produced multiple post-CES articles, they are mostly of the gizmos-for-you and even for those health tech companies like Withings, press caught them in the activity-tracking ‘fun’ wearable category. Some write-ups were good visual tours, and some press folk offered up a ho-hum, nothing new to see here view, like the NY Times – Everything Old is New Again. Which is silly. There were a gazillion new things to see at CES, but no way to make sense of them. The floor layout in both convention centers we were in could best be categorized as dart board random -- except for booth numbers and mega-broad categories. So to finish off this trilogy of post-CES blogs, Part 1 addressed a few tech offerings in the aging-related space. Part 2 took a look at a few of the health-related technology innovations. Finally, a few others that could assist in the older adults market, here some additional picks, only OnKöl and VideoforAlle targeting the senior market. As Ars Technica noted about CES 2015, that's a wrap.

What makes sense for caregiving -- UberHealth or Caregiving Robots?

That clanking you hear is media drum-banging and robots walking. While the robotics world is literally rocking industries from manufacturing to surgery -- as caregiving robotic technology, there is still nothing much in our time, Paro, Jibo, and other media magnets not withstanding, still on the drawing board or at a price point that only a grant-funded pilot could love. Stated convictions that robots will be here because 'we need them' -- are just that -- stated. As every single article about robots and caregiving has concluded for the past oh-so-many-years, these marvels are in the future and when the caregiving variants do finally arrive, will be accompanied by an interesting set of challenges. Like electric and self-driving cars, the concept precedes the reality of distribution and resellers, battery charging configuration, maintenance and repair processes, rent or buy? And actually, consumers put caregiving robots in the same skeptical category as Google Glass and drones, which means even if they were available, marketing may be a challenge. And while robots as a concept keep popping up in senior housing publications -- nothing much has happened beyond the talk and the concept.

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Technology for seniors -- why not an iWatch?

I, for one, am tiring of the Apple iWatch.  And it is not even out yet. A Morgan Stanley analyst predicts that the $300 iWatch will sell between 30 and 60 million units, but wisely, like the 50-50 chance of rain, also notes 'there is a chance that the iWatch will fail.' Apple is bringing in multiple athletes to test the thing, including an unnamed player from the Red Sox (unnamed is probably for the best, these days.) So who will buy a $300 smart watch, will they leave their iPhone and their iPad home? What will they use to take a picture? Hopefully it will be of good quality and look less awkward than photographers holding up iPads to point and shoot. Though will we hold our wrist up before our eyes and look like we are blocking the sun? Out from our arm and look like we are signaling a left turn?

Four recent technology innovations from outside the US

Not made in the USA. Over the years, Google alerts have both helped find technologies that would be useful to older adults -- and because this site has focused largely on US companies and initiatives, those same alerts sometimes seem to be all about happenings in upstate New York or new initiatives in New Jersey. So here is an attempt to start a conversation about great ideas for technology innovations from outside the US that can be helpful to seniors.  Emphasis is 'start' -- and additions are welcome.

The future of aging is more newsworthy than the present

Groundhog Day --the future resurfaces regularly.  The UK media just discovered the granny pod, four years after a similar granny cottage concept appeared, And this new discovery comes three years after AARP discovered MedCottage, which AARP described as a portable alternative to nursing homes (seriously, folks?). Ditto on companion robots (including the ever-popular Paro) from the same UK article. Can you believe it? Companion robots are just around the corner, and the future is just ahead. Says the Financial Times writer: "People are living longer and the result, according to the UN, is that there will be two billion people aged over 60 worldwide by 2050."  Let’s see, doth a projection 37 years from now a market make? Even if you buy that being over 60 constitutes a candidate customer for a MedCottage or companion robot (seriously?), it must be just too hard to find a number of how many would benefit today. That’s because caregiving robots of today are still in the experimental stage (even though nurses may prefer them to people).

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