By Steve Moran
But . . . not what you think . . .
The last panel of the day at Aging2.0 AgeTech Expo Nov. 19-20 in San Francisco was a bunch of elders. They ranged in age from early 70s to 97. The moderator Jeremy Bloom spent time querying them about their view of technology and their use of technology. Here is what they taught us:
All but one of them owns and uses a smartphone.
They find the use of phones at the dinner table or in group settings to be baffling; wondering why, if you are face-to-face with family and friends, you would want to be texting or chatting with someone else. I will confess I often wonder this as well.
They all use email and I think everyone uses Facebook.
Many play games.
Some use video chatting.
They all like and see value in technology. I am thinking they may not be a representative sample of seniors. They likely were chosen because they are seniors that have embraced technology.
They pretty much all use GPS technology either stand alone or as a smartphone app.
At least some like using the flashlight app.
There was not a single person on the panel who is using an app designed for seniors. Not one! They are using the same apps that we are using in more or less the same ways.
Perhaps the most important question they were asked was how they felt about some type of technology that would monitor their health/wellbeing and report back to their adult children. Not a single one was excited about this idea, though a couple said, that if it really became necessary they would accept it.
Figuring It Out
If I came away from this Aging2.0 AgeTech Expo with a single important takeaway, it is that seniors are just people, who have the same passions, needs desires and interests as the rest of us.
I am more and more convinced that there are great opportunities in the senior space when it comes to making senior communities and homecare companies more efficient at what they do.
I am more and more convinced that the market for senior specific technology is actually very tiny and will never be huge . . . wait . . . I am not done with this thought.
I do think that as seniors age, they have specific changes in capabilities and that those capabilities do create technology opportunities. However, those opportunities are highly correlated to functional abilities and functional needs. They are not highly correlated to chronological age.
Don’t get me wrong, I do think opportunities abound . . . for instance, maybe there needs to be a community platform that is more geared toward helping senior having meaningful community.