Market Overview for Technology for Aging in Place

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smartphones, cell phones

Connectivity is a Social Determinant of…Everything

Information is online – people need to be there too.  News, bank branches, health advice, streaming radio, borrowing books from libraries– it’s all making inroads in our connected lives.  Consider: Netflix has 42 million US subscribers, half of Americans have listened to Internet radio. But what is the significance of fewer people having broadband access in their homes? Broadband access has a correlation between well-being and wellness (hats off to that Health Populi post!).  Is it the link between being over 50 and finding a job? Perhaps you are checking online to protect from Internet fraud; verifying that an identity hasn’t been stolen; checking out an eBook or using another online service from a library; including training on how to use the Internet. Or perhaps you are buying from the dominant US retail growth engine – hint, it's not Walmart, but Amazon.

For some seniors, will the digital divide ever be closed?

User interfaces are poorly designed – so a new inclusive one must be designed.  A $20 million grant just went to the University of Wisconsin to contribute to a user interface design that could help many deal with technology that has been designed without them in mind. Professor Gregg Vanderheiden says: "There are many people who, because of disability, literacy, digital literacy or aging, can't use the technologies they encounter. As a society we are designing the world out from under these people. When a person encounters something with a digital interface — a computer, Web page, TV, themostat (for the iPhone generation) -- the interface on the device or Web page instantly and automatically changes into a form that the person can understand and use."

Six Offerings from the 2015 Louisville Innovation Summit

Louisville, Kentucky is the aging-industry capital of the United States. The city is a very big player in long-term care, host to a variety of "headquarters in nursing home, rehabilitation, assisted living and home health administration." Last week the city (and a variety of its long-term care industry sponsors) ran an industry summit that included two days of sessions and a bevy of live pitches. It is striking to contemplate the simultaneous growing blur and yet near-complete disconnect between health-related innovations involving doctors and the world of aging care. There has long been a need for disruptive innovation in the long-term care industry -- which, like the health care industry overall, struggles with lower reimbursements, which in turn have resulted in further industry consolidation.

Five new technologies that can help older adults and their families

Some tech companies don’t see the senior market as an opportunity. They are the Peter Pan tech firms, the ones in which no one (including the customer) ever ages (you might know them as Facebook, Apple, Google, and Twitter). Meanwhile, from Nashville, France, and Germany, others see inclusion and extra services as good business, maybe because this market is pretty much ignored by the gang of four. Here are five companies that vary a platform or a product to make it more useful for an older adult market or service. – All material is derived from the vendor websites or press releases:

Apple’s launch: how about something for US seniors?

Apple launch – the mountain shuddered.  Apple is a phone company – the majority of their revenue comes from the iPhone, now to be sold directly on 24-month $32 payment plans – never mind having to buy that $768 phone from those pesky carriers.  There were plenty of excited selfies taken at the big event – read this nasty review to get a fresh (that is, not fawning) perspective from a writer who owns all Apple products, ironically. So what was new from the phone company?  A smarter Siri, a camera that catches up with Samsung, a tablet similar to Microsoft Surface, and 3D touch  -- enabling an activity within device context, so from the home screen, now you can launch straight into selfie mode. But this 3D touch might have been be the most useful feature for older adults with any hand tremor – it enables a deliberate pressure versus accidental swipe – the bane of devices that lost their buttons (and pressure sensitivity) years ago. Note cell phones ‘designed’ for seniors.  Note the read-the-manual response on Apple’s Support site about use of the iPhone for seniors used to flip phones.


 

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Apple introduces 3D touch

09/10/2015

SAN FRANCISCO — September 9, 2015 — Apple® today announced iPhone® 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, the most advanced iPhones ever, adding a powerful new dimension to iPhone’s revolutionary Multi-Touch™ interface. The new iPhones introduce 3D Touch, which senses force to enable intuitive new ways to access features and interact with content. iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus feature Retina® HD displays made from the strongest glass on any smartphone and 7000 series aluminum, the same alloy used in the aerospace industry, in gorgeous metallic finishes that now include rose gold.

Listen up – will new pricing of data plans further limit seniors?

If you don’t like the way carriers serve older adults, just wait, it could get worse.   A few months ago we learned that carriers are pushing tablets, ha! Just as tablet sales overall are slowing. Carriers obviously read that Gartner report about slowing tablet sales -- and then 'encouraged' us to add a tablet to a plan for $10/month for up to 5GB of data. How generous. That’s not a lot of movies, maybe 2.5 hours of streaming HD per month. But what plan? How to encourage data usage with wireless data plans? No problem, those have all changed, with AT&T following T-Mobile and Verizon aping AT&T. And all of this following the precedent long set in Europe – now the full price of the phone is disclosed ($650 for an iPhone!). You could buy the phone upfront, but not to worry – there’s a monthly installment plan for the list price phone.

Consumers lose: medical hacking, 911 failure, Google rules

Ho hum – another day, another few million records are hacked. Rant on. It’s a small hack really, only 4.5 million impacted by the UCLA Medical System cyber attack. But what a relief, the impacted individuals will receive identity theft recovery and restoration services and credit monitoring at no cost. That category of service firm is buying plenty of ads all around and may be one of the boom businesses of 2015.  Because of course the 4.5 million must be added to the 22 million Federal government individuals and the 80 million Anthem Blue Cross individuals -- for starters.  And the solution?  A new services industry emerges with vendors popping up in every flavor. As for fines for those that let the data get out of the bag? As for the notorious insurance industry leader, Anthem (first quarter net income $865.2 million) has received a fine of $1.7 million – but fines for data breaches remain rare.

Google crushes content to boost mobile friendliness

Google forced the creation of so-called mobile sites?  Rant on.  Last week I published a list of Medication Management technologies that could be useful to baby boomers. Great. This week I looked at those websites a bit more closely, not squinting at my phone, but instead from my desktop PC. I selected a few of them – stared at the full motion video on the desktop sites, and ran their URLs through the Google Mobile Friendly-ness test. I also put in MobiHealthNews and Weather.gov (Google says not mobile friendly). The URL for Anthem.com  was deemed mobile friendly, but when searching via Google for Anthem.com, I was directed to an Overview page (not friendly). Then I look at the tortured feedback on Google’s own recommended forum about this topic: So many sites have been failing this test -- with their owners fixing and then pleading with Google to take another look.

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