5 Trends Driving 2016 Technology for Seniors
A look back to look forward. Consider the context for 2016 innovation, despite (or as a result of) a still-erratic economy, and smaller-cheaper-better base technologies. At the same time, the assisted living industry watches residential age climbing – over half now are 85+. Based on looking back at 2015, here then are five key trends for driving 2016 technology for seniors:
- Voice: Innovators will activate a variety of applications. CES 2015 explosion of technologies generated lots of noise, and even products, some specifically useful for older adults, some for health, some less ready and/or more far-fetched possibilities. But late January, Amazon made its Echo – a voice-activated smart Pringles can — offering available to consumers with an API for others to use to experiment. Hopefully, we will see the fruits of Amazon’s $100 million Alexa fund investments. By the end of 2016, more products of every type will be configurable, sort-of smart, and be activated by voice, including, unfortunately, car technology. The creepy-factor of always-listening devices will need to be addressed – when they misunderstand instructions, interrupt a (human) conversation, or well-meaning but wrong-headed folk try to substitute voice-enabled sort-of-robots for human care.
- Wearables: Not your mother’s medical alarm — PERS will branch out. It was inevitable that fitness wearables were just a first pass at health-on-the-wrist. Apple watches were a hyper-hoopla distraction at first, but their presence set the (uh) pace for acceptance for more wrist-based smarts – despite the failure of minutes-too-late Lively. In 2016, expect to see more health-wearables that are usable by older adults. They will include PERS functionality and more PERS technology linked with other data sources – look for smarter fall detection, proximity sensing, geo-fencing, and/or integration with health data.
- Home care: Home care’s hot entrepreneurs cast new light on caregiving apps. In April, an industry not known for innovation got a few $20 million investor jolts – Honor was launched in San Francisco, then HomeHero in Los Angeles was infused in June with $23 million, and New York-based Hometeam received $11 million in July. All of these companies will depend on software like ClearCare and even dedicated devices to power and monitor home health status – or even their labor force. Expect 2016 to bring more care delivery technologies as well as monitoring home (and home health) care workers.
- IoT: From hype to a (more) supportive Internet of Caring Things. The Internet of Things in 2015 was still a cacophony of mostly-nonsense communicating thermostats and toasters. And the security issues associated with it are no laughing matter. Forrester noted in July that the Smart Home might not be a standalone growth area. In 2016, let’s assume that tech companies will rise to the challenges of protecting identity, personal data, and health status from connected devices and associated websites.
- Telehealth: Insurance companies and government begin to see the picture. Long-predicted and now even progressing through legislation, telehealth (remote monitoring, consultation, prescribing) will see inevitable expansion in 2016. Experts expect continued obstacles – but as deductibles add up, healthcare delivery and drugs will drive costs up – and for adults aged 65+, over their lifespan, higher still. As life expectancy rises along with the effects of chronic diseases and lifestyle, telehealth approaches and smart ways to deliver care more cost effectively will prevail.
Are you interested in learning more about 2016 technology trends for seniors? Join me for my January 27, 2016, webinar: The Year of Leveraging Technology.
About the author: Laurie M. Orlov is a tech industry veteran, writer, speaker, and elder care advocate, and the founder of Aging in Place Technology Watch and Boomer Health Tech Watch.