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CES 2018: Five Technologies Useful for Older Adults

CES 2018 is off to a noisy, rainy and motion-filled start.  The Intel dancing drones, the Aptiv Self-Driving rides, Google’s soaked outdoor booth ("Alexa, make it rain"?) and Amazon somewhat smaller-scale "magical experiences." It virtually never rains in Las Vegas – and hasn’t for 121 days – but there’s the video of the downpour -- and Google employees bailing out the booth. The big headline for CES is the battle of the voice assistants for the smart home – which includes Samsung’s Bixby – go ahead, talk to your TV and refrigerator -- as well as Alexa, Google, and Microsoft's Cortana.

How will this gaggle of goods work for older adults – or anyone? One might wonder, as The Verge does – is technology today built on incorrect assumptions about the tech capability of the user? For example, check out the steps to set up the Echo. Sure, it is a useful device for older adults, but that assumes that after plugging it in, the user has access to the app, the Wifi password, and the Amazon account password. That’s for starters. What about accessing services like Internet radio, requesting rides, listening to books, speaking with family or setting reminders?.  Read the Front Porch pilot report to see the scope of training needs and opportunity.

As always, CES will have announcements and products that will become popular immediately or hopefully evolve into something useful.  Anyway, here are five new technologies from CES 2018 intended for (maybe) or can offer service/support for older adults (all info is drawn from media or sites):

  • IQBuds. "A set of wireless earbuds ($200) that create a custom listening profile by evaluating the user's hearing. The device uses an app called Ear ID to do just that, calibrating the earbuds automatically to tailor them to each person. Nuheara says the app offers a hearing test you'd usually have to visit an audiologist to get. Of course, that personalization will also help users who can hear just fine but want a more custom sound from their earbuds. The customization extended to the touch controls on the outside of the earbuds as well."  Learn more at Nuheara.
  • Woohoo. "Set for its global release in Q1 2018, WooHoo is positioned as "a tool through which families can care for both elderly parents and children through an interactive and intuitive interface," said SmartBeings co-founder and chief strategy officer Himanshu Kaul. "Through such features as gesture control, motion-and-fall detection, a smart camera with facial recognition, NLP-based voice commands, and audio/video conferencing, every home and office can now connect and control every device through our Artificial Intelligence Platform and mobile app." Learn More at SmartBeings.
  • Buddy. "Buddy is another robot that's been with us for a couple of years in some form or another, but it's on show at CES 2018 in its latest incarnation. From French robotics firm Blue Frog, Buddy is designed as a robot that can keep up a conversation with anyone in your family, monitor your home, play music and videos, and more besides. Think of it kind of like an Amazon Echo with a face and wheels, though there's no Alexa on board here. It's particularly good for playing with kids or keeping an eye on elderly parents, but like a lot of CES kit, you can't actually buy Buddy right now. Its makers say preorders for the robot assistant will be open again soon." Learn more at BlueFrog Robotics.
  • Cutii.  "Our vocal and facial recognition robot, named Cutii, provides elders with access to a full catalog of activities and services.” Cutii responds to verbal cues to offer users a catalog of services and activities. It can’t assist with day-to-day tasks like cooking and doing the dishes, but can schedule and coordinate enrichment and well-being activities like contacting family members, arranging doctor’s appointments, and signing up for fitness classes. The robot can be controlled manually with a remote or it can be left to navigate autonomously around the home." Learn more at Digital Trends.
  • EZVIZ. "Home security camera maker EZVIZ announced its first product for smart entry security at CES 2018 today, with the debut of the Lookout Smart Door Viewer. The system is designed to work with the company’s new ezGuard security camera, as well as with other EZVIZ products and Amazon Alexa. What makes the system more interesting than the usual smart entry solution is how it takes advantage of facial recognition. Using the EZVIZ app, homeowners can opt to create a gallery of trusted people who can gain access to the home. It does this by utilizing facial recognition technology to identify the person at the door automatically, allowing the homeowner to act as they see fit to allow entry." Learn more at TechCrunch.

Of course with 200,000 attendees and 4000 companies exhibiting-- and the 2018 Digital Health Summit underway, there should be many more to note. Newslinks about helpful and/or interesting offering for older adults will be posted here as well.  Finally, a parting insight from a reporter on how to make gadgets great again -- respect our time, security is not our job, focus on the Internet of Services, not the Internet of Things, and don't lock us in.   Perfect.



Hi, Laurie,

Do you know any real successful applications (not just concept)  of AI or Robotics in the area of elderly caring, other than Amazon Echo/Google Home?




Jie Wang


Dears Laurie and Jie, thanks for the conversation but most seniors can benefit from available technologies such as hearing aids to combat dementia and memory loss. Simple technology integration such as the ones in Starkey Evolv that reminds the patient to take medicines, or fall detector or so is not new technologies but a simple integration and extension of the application. Just my 2 cents. BTW I'm an audiologist in South London. Thanks.


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