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Says a report from the Senate Aging Committee.


From 101,000 to 422,000 -- mostly women.

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Gadgets and Gizmos for consumers, Senior Value Chain?

To get a feel for the overall shape and status (or non-shape and early status) of the Aging in Place Technology market that goes direct to consumer, imagine wanting to know what's available to help you remain safely and happily in your home. These collections got me thinking about the randomness of these technologies and how and to whom they are marketed. I also watched a video presentation by Susan Ayres Walker that reinforced this sense of randomness of the consumer-oriented offerings.

Here are three sources:

1) Baby Boomer Gadgets & Gizmos


3) MSN Tech & Gadgets

Not unlike the rest of the baby boomer's history - this sort  of marketing will no doubt build up a pile of useless junk sitting in the corners and closets of homes. And what's coming from inventors and researchers -- that gets journalists excited, so there are the internet equivalent of magazine stacks of columns about what's coming down the road , as well asMark Miller's excellent RetirementRevised column about Intel and many others). 

While collecting gadgets that may or may not prove useful has always be fun for some -- as gadgets and gizmos, these products are not going to help boomers stay independent in our later years (imagine that today's oldest boomer, 62-year-old, is now 72 and then 82). And furthermore, marketing these gadgets as such will ensure that they stay as soon-to-be-obsolete gadgets -- not integrated into the existing home environment, not capable of being integrated with other solutions, not supported by service providers who are regularly in the home.

The overall marketplace - a value chain. As we think about this marketplace of technologies, growing all the time, perhaps vendors should place prospective customers into a view that I think of as the Senior Value Chain.  The aging person is a member of this value chain, but so are their adult children (so sites like and gilbertguide) help these adult children find solutions to problems that their parents are having. Geriatric care managers (and social workers, home care agencies), independent and assisted living providers are all in it. As the scale of problems grow, there must be a coherent view of this market -- so that gadget designers don't try to sell to assisted living companies and systems-oriented solutions aren't mistakenly targeted directly at consumers.

Organizations like the AARP should help vendors understand the senior value chain. One thing was very clear at the AARP convention. Most everyone wants to sell to everyone. As in other tech marketplaces, that does not work -- consumers will not buy an enterprise-class data warehouse offering, and enterprises are reluctant to deploy consumer products at work. GilbertGuide has set up a 'Preferred Product' designation that is an example of sorting the consumer side.  It may be that over time, new vendors cluster around the preferred products as a matter of course. But at least the GilbertGuide staff recognizes that an unsorted list of gadgets aren't sustainable as solutions to maintaining independence.




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