Market Overview for Technology for Aging in Place

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Seniors

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Seniors

Considering the Future of "Voice-First" and Older Adults

Voice-First. The rapid growth of the market for voice-enabled technologies, sparked by the popularity of the Amazon Echo, has the potential to be as disruptive a technology change as any that preceded it. Some are describing this new trend for devices and software is known as Voice-First, that is, the primary interface to the technology is spoken. These offerings are found within hardware, some of which is designed to include Smart Home features. Examples include the ‘smart speaker’ Amazon Echo product line, Google Home, and in 2018, Apple HomePod. And Voice-First is built into software such as new smart, personal, digital, and virtual assistants. Note examples that are part of platform ecosystems: Alexa, Siri, Cortana, Samsung’s Bixby, and Google Assistant. The category also includes voice interaction with devices as disparate as wearables, tablets, security alarms, healthcare interactions, and cars.  Since this is an early, even Version 1.1 market, many more Voice-First examples are forthcoming, maybe even next week!

Six Tech and Aging Blog Posts -- September, 2017

It was the autumn of disaster.  As summer waned, a series of storms (and oddly-off forecasts about path) wreaked havoc across a vast area, with terrorized older adults left sitting in water or trapped on highways -- stuck in interminable traffic, sweltering heat or homes crushed and no place to go. Hurricane Harvey assaulted Houston, then Hurricane Irma pummeled multiple areas of Florida and Caribbean islands, there were earthquakes and aftershocks in Mexico, followed by a mind-boggling crisis from Maria in Puerto Rico. Throughout all of these, people were heroic. But technology failed or disappointed in almost every way -- from cell phone batteries to power companies, from internet availability to forecasting of storm paths. If one were to look back a year later, it will almost be too much to be believed. Here are six blog posts from the month of September, most prior to Hurricane Irma:

Five VR offerings for Older Adults and Patients in 2017

What is virtual reality and why should seniors care? Emerging from the gaming world, virtual reality technology and content is beginning to deliver in healthcare and senior settings.  The strict definition, "computer technology that delivers an experience through headsets" is terse. But multiple firms, from CDW Healthcare and Morning Pointe Memory Care to Cedars Sinai Hospital -- these organizations see an opportunity to use the technology in interesting and beneficial ways.

Irma: hurricanes, tech and older adults – what can be learned?

First there was too much information.  At the forecasters became more insistent that Irma would hit Florida – the state with the highest percentage of older adults -- as a Category 5 hurricane, many of the possibly 4 million older adult residents appeared to leave first – when the highways were still passable. Then more tried to leave and were stuck in monumental traffic jams.  Finally, there were the stalwarts determined to stay, in the Keys, in Miami, in Bonita Springs, in Jacksonville. And for senior living communities, evacuation seemed near-impossible. Ultimately for some with no place to go – and no help – they died due to neglect and lack of followup by a state agency.

What’s new in technology for individuals with impaired vision?

Lots of talk about technology talking to us.  We are in a 'voice-first-this' and voice-first-that moment in technology history.  So much buzz, that even Apple thinks Siri may need to wise up and consider the competition – which is speaking to us from everywhere, and has even (in research) reduced the error rate down to 5.1%.   Of course, when you imagine that voice tech is used for in-car navigation systems (Drive to Western Avenue – no not cistern, I said Western!) and may be driving home automation systems, alerting to falls, and assisting home health aides, it’s important to have very high expectations for very low error rates.

Working past 70 – what are reasons and tech implications?

Trends come and trends go – but some trends generate their own trends.  No doubt you saw the news that one-fifth of individuals aged 65+ (as officially counted by someone) are still working at least part time -- some past the age of 70.  In fact, this is the highest rate of employment level of older adults in 55 years.  Perhaps this trend is something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Apparently 79% of US workers expect to supplement retirement income by working for pay.  Maybe they read about the recent assertion that the definitional age of 'old' is moving up to 73 for women and 70 for men. Are older workers concerned about life expectancy? Do they know that if they live to age 65, life expectancy is anticipated to be 88.8 for women and 86.6 for men? Are they worried about outliving their money (aka plummeting retirement income)? It used to be that older adults feared nursing homes worse than death. That was in 2007.  Now the worry is outliving their money.

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