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Silvers Summit -- a few thoughts after this first CES event about technology for seniors

It's been a long couple of days. So many vendors, so little brain capacity left. But let's get right down to the point. Silvers Summit is the first time CES has ever had a day-long track allocated to discussions and presentations about technology and aging. Although that should dispel doubts as to whether this is a category of consumer products, in some ways, it didn't really fit.  With more than 100,000 CES press, buyers, vendors, and technogentsia running here and there, it was a sea of pounding audio, color-etched video, and miniaturized smart this-and-thats, most with new product launches. And it was crowded with a veritable international army of young guys waiting in bus lines and talking to themselves on their gadgets  -- okay, they were probably great gadgets.

The Silvers Summit sessions, however, were different. They offered content-dense perspectives about this early industry -- so obviously on a cusp of awareness and uptake.The event was extremely well-choreographed by host Susan Ayers Walker of the SmartSilvers Alliance. She is a tech industry veteran and long-time evangelist for technology for seniors, both as an AARP journalist, engineer, and Silicon Valley business consultant.

We were treated to sharp insights and commitment from the visionaries of the home health and aging-focused industry: folks like Jerry Shereshewsky, Madison Avenue and Yahoo advertising guru and founder of Grandparents.com, Michael Takemura, Director of Accessibility and Aging at HP, Intel's Digital Health visionary and chief patient advocate, to use his words --  Eric Dishman, AARP's Howard Byck, SVP of Lifestyle Products, AARP CIO, Matt Mitchell, and Majd Alwan, Director of CAST (Center for Aging Services Technologies). To name a few.

And the stage was filled with the CEOs of numerous firms whose mission is to enable a healthier and happier aging -- including: Carsten Trads of Clarity (a Plantronics division that provides devices for Hard of Hearing and Deaf communities), Dr. William Reichman of Baycrest (aging research), Dan Michael of brain-fitness Dakim, Inc, Charlie Hillman of home monitoring pioneer GrandCare Systems, Mary Furlong, baby boomer trend expert and founder of SeniorNet and ThirdAge Media, and the super-energetic Dr. Kathleen Hall, ironically the founder of The Stress Institute

For those of us looking to share ideas and learn about and from the who's who of the aging-aware industry, it was a firehose of thoughts, trends, and ideas. We heard from those who are passionate about serving this industry -- and know a market opportunity when they hear one. When the full set of session videos are posted, I'll let you know and provide a link so you can hear what I heard -- far too much to summarize in a blog. Except I won't be able to help myself, so you'll hear more about specific vendors over the next few days.  And yes,  I did find 10 new vendors!

So for a start:  here are just a few of the trends mentioned that I think I transcribed correctly (from AARP and Pew and others):

  • Baby boomers have $2 trillion in income and own 70% of US financial assets
  • Only 11% of boomers will retire at age 62
  • 1 in 4 boomers are empty-nesters
  • 23 million are single
  • The average baby boomer participates in 10 extra-curricular activities (various exercise, cultural, community, etc.)
  • 5 million are responsible for primary care of an elder
  • 7 million have game devices in their homes
  • 62% of boomers have broadband at home
  • The majority of PC users are age 50+
  • Despite being tech optiimists (Forrester), boomers are easily frustrated with technology (AARP) based on their long history of using tech that barely works or never did work. Think dial-up from the 70's, programming VCRs and glacially slow browsers, to name but a few)
  • One-third of bloggers are over the age of 45 -- whew, good to know!

More when I can write more.





You've provided some wonderful information on technology that makes a difference in the lives of seniors. ClearSounds Communications also participated in the Silvers Summit at CES, including panel discussions. I welcome you to check out our site at www.clearsounds.com. For 26 years we have committed ourselves to providing technology that matters. Keeping people connected, independent and safe is key to our product development. Maintaining a sense of belonging by communicating with others is such an important part of long term health & happiness. Letting people know there are solutions that can help them hear clearly in a cost effective & simple way can make a difference for so many people.


I had material from ClearSounds -- and included in the post-CES blog about it -- here's the link: Five Intriguing Vendors from CES.

Thanks for mentioning it!

- Laurie


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