Did you miss a November blog post about tech and older adults?

november202021Tech for an aging population – niche or not.  November is done. But recent announcements about tech and older adults make one wonder about the category. Should it be special, unique, with well-designed hardware by well-meaning and enthusiastic engineers? That sounds good – but is it?  The oldest baby boomer turns 76 in January 2022.  That sounds old.  Does that place baby boomers squarely in the ‘I had a grandmother who fell down’ design target?  The PERS industry, maybe a cash cow for persistent resellers, has actually not grown in the past four years – market sizing numbers have been stable at around $1.5 billion. But consider other trends — the older population has grown, the Apple Watch was introduced and fall detection apps are available from Best Buy and FallCall, Philips Lifeline withdrew, Amazon has partnered with Vayyar (radar-based fall detection) in Alexa Together. What was once a sizable niche may actually be a hanging-on, but low growth market for the foreseeable future.  Blog posts from November:

Are older adults well-served by technology in 2021?  Some progress has been made — Apple and Amazon seem interested in the older adult segment. Smartphones are being adopted by the majority of older adults, including those aged 70+. That’s despite their touchy screens, inconsistent app designs, and now silly warnings about app tracking on Apple devices. Those self-righteous warning are especially amusing, given that Gmail is the most frequently used email client (with 53% of the US market), including on iPhones. And you know that for Gmail and other ‘free’ software (like YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram), you are the product for advertisers and more. But we digress. In home care, technology plays a tangential role at best, though tech exists, including AI and machine learning, that could improve care of older adults. And the potential for a smarter (and healthier) home is growing — an upcoming research report will be published shortly about the topic.  Read more.

Today’s smart homes – plugged in but not connected. Consider the Boston Consulting Group’s 2018 market sizing and landscape nicely visualized as a swarm of categories. What you saw there is the reality of market fragmentation, filled with multiple product types that do not play well together. Or MarketandMarket’s 2021 structure of the smart home market, noting that integrators play a key role in linking products together into a useful home environment, noting in the report that it is a “tedious task to link systems developed by different manufacturers or vendors; this could result in limited functionalities and unreliable services apart from incompatibility issues.” At the bottom of the report’s stack are the DIY (Home Depot) categories that include thermostats, locks, and lighting. Migrating up the stack, the work of integrators and service providers begins with managed smart home systems up to luxury home systems. Read more.

What is a Smart Home? For older adults, should it be Connected? Gartner Research defines the Connected Home as: “Networked to enable the interconnection and interoperability of multiple devices, services and apps, ranging from communications and entertainment to healthcare, security and home automation. These services and apps are delivered over multiple interlinked and integrated devices, sensors, tools and platforms. Connected, real-time, smart and contextual experiences are provided for the household inhabitants, and individuals are enabled to control and monitor the home remotely as well as within it.” Read more.

Smart home technologies are not part of the home care solution set. Despite the labor shortage that is impacting the home care industry, technology in the home, especially smart home technology, is not part of the home care solution set. Yet with appropriate use of sensors, cameras, and voice interactions, families and home care providers could improve the wellbeing of older adults, many of whom are alone at home for long stretches of time. What is needed and will emerge over the next five years? Moving forward, there will be multi-tiered offerings customized remotely, adjusted as a person becomes frail. Smart home technology will be used by home care companies to help compensate for labor shortages, warning of in-home issues during those times when the care recipient is alone. What will be available? Read more.

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