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Aging Baby Boomers Spawn New Tech Markets 119

Posted by kdawson
from the grandma's-little-helper dept.
PreacherTom writes "With the generation of Baby Boomers starting to enter their 60's, 75 million Americans will cross that line in the next 20 years. For the first time, though, this group will be composed of people who have grown up with technology. Enter a new industry: tech for the elderly that provides greater independence and better health, with an eye to users' privacy and dignity. Some examples (with pictures) would be the Pill Pets, stuffed animals with LCD's that tell their owners when to take their medicine, and Aware Car, which provides electronic warning systems to compensate for losses in reflexes." A national coalition, the Center for Aging Services Technologies, was established in 2003. Intel is doing some imaginative work in the area of assistive technology.
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Aging Baby Boomers Spawn New Tech Markets

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  • Pill Pet? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BoberFett (127537) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @02:13PM (#17115850)
    Do people who are familiar with technology really need to hide their pill reminders in a stuffed animal? That sounds more patronizing than anything.
    • Re:Pill Pet? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @02:24PM (#17115980) Homepage Journal
      Yes. They do. Clearly you have never seen some nice old lady all atwitter at one of those cute furry mouse-looking covers for a computer mouse. Or the little old lady driving down the road with nine trillion plushies in her back window. Or the women who come to play bingo at my place of employment and bring their lucky troll doll collection with them. Obviously it's not for everyone, which is why they're not going to stop selling the traditional pill reminders. What do you have against choice?
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by kfg (145172)
        Clearly you have never seen some nice old lady all atwitter at one of those cute furry mouse-looking covers for a computer mouse.

        I have, but she was born before the Wright Bros. flew under power.

        On the other hand I know 20 year olds who knit doofey covers for Kleenex boxes, but they don't expect to get their email on their Kleenex box either.

        In any case it's the 20 year old knitting Kleenex box covers who's going to grow old and go all atwitter over a teddy bear pill reminder. It isn't because she's old, it
        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Patting me on the head because I'm old because she is doofey is condescending.

          You are allowed to have that attitude as soon as someone forces you to buy the thing.

          Are you really going to go on a tirade and start knocking over shelves if they put the pill reminder teddy bears on the shelf next to your normal pill reminder?

          Old people, likewise, aren't just big children even though some of them act like it.

          Sure, not all of them. Just the ones that act like it. If someone wants to act like a child,

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by kfg (145172)
            Sure, not all of them. Just the ones that act like it. If someone wants to act like a child, then they can be treated like a child, whereas if they want to act like an adult, I am more than happy to treat them like one - and in both cases, this is regardless of age.

            Thank you, I 'preciate that. You, however, are not typical.

            When you were 8 you went to school and took sports/violin/whatever because your teachers/parents wanted you to, not because you wanted to. You will find as you grow older that most people
            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by drinkypoo (153816)

              In the meantime a targeted rant now and again may be just the whack upside the head the people who will be marketing things to me and the people who will be caring for me need to remind that, like bad generals, they are thinking about the last generation when "solving" the problems of this generation, even though they may well be deluding themselves that they are thinking of this one.

              Well, I don't think that those people are reading slashdot, and of those who are, they are probably going to ignore you a

              • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

                by kfg (145172)
                . . .they are probably going to ignore you and cite some study that says old people react well to stuffed animals.

                Exactly! They may well find, however, that the old people they are studying are not the old people they are marketing too, which is what they purport to be about. The old people they are studying are people born before WWII, not the people born after, whose money it is they are after.

                They may well find their capital already gone when they figure out that we're looking to buy built in wireless fo
              • >I'm not a two year old. I don't go on tirades.
                >
                >>It doesn't stop Rush Limbaugh or Bill O'Reilly.

                Touche!

                KFG

            • by drinkypoo (153816)
              Adult, but with issues. But since every hot chick has issues, what can you do? Better infantilism than, say, alcoholism :P
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by mdpye (687533)
      with an eye to users' privacy and dignity. Some examples (with pictures) would be the Pill Pets, stuffed animals with LCD's that tell their owners when to take their medicine
      The author obviously has a rather different definition of dignity to me...

    • by khephera (1009359)
      I'm over 50. If I want to be reminded of something, I'll put it in my pocket PC or whatever the next-gen calendar device is going to be. There's no reason why, when someone hits middle age, they should be targeted with inane devices such as the Pill Pet. I'm still waiting for a version of Windows to come out minus all the pop-up balloons and idiot prompts; I certainly am not going to want a car or toy telling me what to do.
    • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:19PM (#17116916) Homepage Journal
      Medicate Me Elmo!
    • A version of Linux that's so simple they just click on ginormous "EMAIL" and "BROWSE WEB" icons on a desktop. Seriously, it's what my mom would actually use. Maybe throw in a "PICTURES" in there, in case they have kids sending them pictures.

      Of course, you could set it up in the background, and it of course wouldn't have much functionality. And, the browser and email client skins would have to be customized a bit. Simple media players identical to current digital players would be great too.

    • Now keep in mind this IS the generation that brought us the pet rock we are talking about.....
  • Regarding Pill Pets - I'm holding out for the real thing. I want Fido to get my pills and do my shopping for me. I'd imagine that implantable computers will probably be able to facilitate augmented pets that can do amazing things within the next 20 years. Whether or not ethical questions will kill the idea is another thing.

    Or ... I could just buy myself a helper penguin [youtube.com]. Apparently penguins are much smarter than I thought.
    • If we have implantable computers -- real brain/computer interfaces, not just electrodes wired to pleasure and pain centers -- I'd rather have one myself than give Fido one.

      I have a long history of Alzheimers in my family, and unless there are some good treatments or augmentative systems at that point, I plan on playing Russian Roulette until I lose at the first sign of dementia.

      But yeah, a dog that could buy me beer would be cool.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        But yeah, a dog that could buy me beer would be cool.

        A lady walks into a bar with a bulldog on a leash. The bartender says, "hey! You can't bring that ugly, flea-ridden thing in here!"

        The lady says, "How dare you talk about my dog that way!"

        The bartender says, "I was talking to the dog!"

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Eternauta3k (680157)
        I plan on playing Russian Roulette until I lose at the first sign of dementia.
        *picks up revolver*
        *pauses*
        What was I suposed to use this for?
    • by unitron (5733)
      "Regarding Pill Pets - I'm holding out for the real thing."

      Me too, but she doesn't have to be a Pet, she could be a Playmate instead. :-)

  • Lawn-Bot (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Combine Roomba, audio microchips, and motion sensors and have an automated robot to yell to tell those damn kids to stay off the lawn.
  • I want an aware car (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @02:19PM (#17115924) Homepage Journal
    And I'm only 36. I personally want- as a minimum- adaptive cruise control tied to a proximity alarm. I want infrared lasers shooting out 8 ways from my car, measuring distance- and a heads-up-display readout plus audible alarms.

    This tech has been avilable since the 1980s, but we've yet to see it in consumer-grade vehicles. Why is that? I'm willing to bet mandatory use of such tech would save at least 2000-3000 lives every year on the highways; after all, it's not the speeding but the tailgating that kills you.
    • by Kadin2048 (468275) <[slashdot.kadin] [at] [xoxy.net]> on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @02:21PM (#17115956) Homepage Journal
      Why is that? I'm willing to bet mandatory use of such tech would save at least 2000-3000 lives every year on the highways; after all, it's not the speeding but the tailgating that kills you.

      There are lots of technologies out there that would almost certainly save lives if implemented, but aren't because they'd be too expensive.

      In the scheme of things, human life has a measurable value, and it's not as high as some people would like to think.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by zappepcs (820751)
        Its not the value of human life that makes such tech prohibitively expensive, its the cost of litigation. Should such life saving technology fail, there are those that would just as soon litigate against the auto manufacturer than say "oh well, that is how life goes sometimes" because whenever possible, people will blame their bad driving on someone else.

        I've said it before, so here we go again, when all vehicles are able to drive themselves, and not before, will it be safe to have autopilot driven vehicles
    • by everphilski (877346) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @02:24PM (#17115996) Journal
      Overly-aware cars lead to a false sense of security, which leads to drivers not paying attention to driving. Now, **some** amount of technology - rear-view cameras in the dash, for instance - are good as they augment your vision in areas where you cannot possibly see. Take for example the removal of stop signs Ejbay and Ipswitch [spiegel.de]. Drivers are forced to be more alert and people are safer because of it.
      • That's not such a bad thing - things to make what you can do more easy/efficient (such as reducing the angle you need to turn your head to see behind you - i.e. the dashboard reaview camera), or distance sensors to tell you how close you are to the curb that the front or right side of your car prevents you from seeing.

        That's great.

        If you have trouble telling that the person front/left of you is about to switch into your lane, that a turn is coming up, or that the cars ahead of you are stopping, you might wa
      • by pilgrim23 (716938)
        You mean I can't get up for a cup of coffee after putting the RV on cruise control? Honestly, the only truely safe vehicle for most americans is a "Bus"
        • I'm for that to a certain extent also- I think that a viable solution to the problem of overcrowded interstates would be investing some money in more Amtrak Autotrains (Currently ONLY available in the highly profitable East Coast corridor, autotrains get cars off the freeways in between towns while giving the driver a break- you literally just drive your car onto the train, and then you have your choice of either staying in your car for short trips, or moving to passenger cars or even sleeper units for long
    • by Billosaur (927319) *

      This tech has been avilable since the 1980s, but we've yet to see it in consumer-grade vehicles. Why is that? I'm willing to bet mandatory use of such tech would save at least 2000-3000 lives every year on the highways; after all, it's not the speeding but the tailgating that kills you.

      Because the technology is going to be adapted to solve the problem from another angle: semi-autonomous roadside missile launchers. Using Doppler radar and lasers, the system will measure the speed and distances between cars and automatically take out tailgaters and speeders. Lock and load!

    • by jeffmeden (135043) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @02:27PM (#17116036) Homepage Journal
      The problem is those 3000 lives are YOUR fault, and thats the way they like it. If the car is as driver-centric as possible there is no chance for litigation claiming that a design flaw caused the car to operate the way it did. Addition of automation systems that have not seen EXTREMELY long trial periods are unacceptable risks for the motor companies. The sad state of litigation in America ensures that if a car company implemented a system that saved 2999 lives but was directly responsible for 1 death, it would be scrapped immediately and the producing company would be severely penalized.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by geekoid (135745)
        I think Air bags prove you wrong.
        • by jeffmeden (135043)
          What, the part where they killed babies? Passenger air bags (the only real risk) took several years to gain acceptance. It's pretty easy to prove operator error when there is a baby seat strapped in and a big blatant sticker that says not to put one there.

          The risk I am referring to is when an adaptive cruise control system paces a car going too fast and (for whatever reason) loses control, or follows a car too close and bumps into it, causing it to lose control and cause an accident. Its quite hard t
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by geekoid (135745)
            "What, the part where they killed babies? Passenger air bags (the only real risk) took several years to gain acceptance."

            as would any new car technology.

            My point was that air bags killed people before they put the stickers on the car, but never a whisper of lawsuit.

            • by jeffmeden (135043)
              I know this thread is old but I will add this in hopes that someone gains some insight.

              "March 28, 2002

              Mercedes-Benz U.S.A will pay a Florida couple $2.25 million after a Federal jury ruled the automaker was responsible for injuries the man and wife sustained in a 1998 accident. Elwood and Norma Kaplan were driving outside of Naples when a Dodge Durango driven by Delwin J. Wohlgemuth crashed into the driver side door of the couple's Mercedes S420. The car's side airbag failed to inflate and Mr. Kaplan's arm
    • by Greenisus (262784)
      BMW offers this in their 7 series sedans:

      http://www.bmwusa.com/vehicles/7/750iSedan/Highlig htDetail.htm [bmwusa.com]

      It's called Active Cruise Control
    • by mspohr (589790)
      Adaptive cruise control is available from TRW and is available from Ford and other auto manufacturers.

      Even better is electronic stability control (ESC) which is available on many new cars. This automatically senses skids and applies selective braking to individual wheels (and in some cases throttle control) to correct skids.

      • Even better is electronic stability control (ESC) which is available on many new cars. This automatically senses skids and applies selective braking to individual wheels (and in some cases throttle control) to correct skids.

        I remember reading about that when it was being beta tested on GE locomotives- each wheel is independantly driven by an electric motor, and thus the computer is able to compensate for the traction under each wheel in nanosecond timeframes.
    • by geekoid (135745)
      " it's not the speeding but the tailgating that kills you."

      Actually, it's the not paying attention that kills you.
      • Thus my original idea- to give the driver sensors in his blind spots (proximity) to make him more aware of his surroundings.
    • Pffft. Screw that.

      I am going to get a Tractor-Trailer Rig, and fill it up with 40,000lbs of rocks.
      Then I will just plow over everyone in my way. THATS the 'merican mentality to driving!

      Actually Pimped Big Rigs are the next step is super pimped SUV technology.
      That or Pimped School Buses I can't decide which.
      • That or Pimped School Buses I can't decide which.

        Didn't we already do those back in the 60s and 70s?

    • And I'm only 36. I personally want- as a minimum- adaptive cruise control tied to a proximity alarm. I want infrared lasers shooting out 8 ways from my car, measuring distance- and a heads-up-display readout plus audible alarms.

      This tech has been avilable since the 1980s, but we've yet to see it in consumer-grade vehicles. Why is that?

      *queue music* munnamunna munna munna munna munna munna...
      Marxist Hacker42, a shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist. Mark Hack, a young loner on a crusade to champion the cause of the innocent, the powerless, the helpless in a world of criminals who operate above the law.

    • I personally want- as a minimum- adaptive cruise control tied to a proximity alarm.

      You've already got one - it's attached to your leg.

      • I was unaware that I had infrared distance monitoring eyeballs on my leg. How do I access the information from them?
        • Bah, why do you want this stuff anyway? You're driving, not taking a ride in your car. I've got cruise control and I don't ever use it - it just isn't useful for anything other than ruler straight roads in Kansas. The more you have your car do, the less you will be able to do, until your car is just some personal subway car (not that that's wholly bad). Ditch the jones for the cruise control and watch where you're driving.
          • Bah, why do you want this stuff anyway?

            So that I can drive *better* and be more aware of my surroundings, of course. I want a split second warning when I'm not looking at my mirror and some drunk comes up behind me.

            As for the personal subway car- what's wrong with that? That's the reason why my commute on a normal morning when I'm not going down to HQ 40 miles away is 5 minutes of driving and 45 minutes riding the train.
            • As for the personal subway car- what's wrong with that?

              Doesn't go to the mountains. I'd still use it for commuting, though - spend some of what I save on an ipod.

              • Doesn't go to the mountains. I'd still use it for commuting, though - spend some of what I save on an ipod.

                Well, in that case, you *wouldn't* want a proximity alarm on purpose- or at least, you'd want to turn it off *before* switching to 4WD and going up that forest service road. Otherwise every boulder would be setting off your proximity sensor.
    • And I'm only 36. I personally want- as a minimum- adaptive cruise control tied to a proximity alarm. I want infrared lasers shooting out 8 ways from my car, measuring distance- and a heads-up-display readout plus audible alarms.

      I'm 39 and I don't want any of that crap (well, I suppose cruise control is handy, but that's it). I can't believe all the bells and whistles bloatparts that they put in cars now. If you can't back up without a TV camera and sonar then you shouldn't be backing up. There's a wareh

    • by JimBobJoe (2758)
      This tech has been avilable since the 1980s, but we've yet to see it in consumer-grade vehicles. Why is that?

      Adapative cruise-control is still crazy expensive (even on a $70k car it's a $2500 option.) Sure the tech might have been around since the 1980s but it's still wickedly complex and expensive.

      Heads-up display never caught on...I suspect, again, because of cost, and maybe because it really never was all that good in car applications.

      HUD is actually rare even in commercial airplanes. [airliners.net] There are a variet
      • Adapative cruise-control is still crazy expensive (even on a $70k car it's a $2500 option.) Sure the tech might have been around since the 1980s but it's still wickedly complex and expensive.

        And yet Matel can come out with a speed gun (same hardware, different software) for $30 for kids to use tracking the speed of baseballs and hot wheels cars; and model railroading enthusiasts have a similar "speed tunnel" device for measuring their hobby for under $100. The only reason it's still crazy expensive is be
        • by JimBobJoe (2758)
          The only reason it's still crazy expensive is because the manufacturers want it to be.

          I don't believe that to be the case. If some automaker figured that they could install it cheaply into vehicles they would do it because it's a damn nifty feature that would help sell cars. The car industry is too competitive at this point in time for them to be holding back features for one thing or another (particularly when it comes to luxury cars over $30k, where automakers struggle to define themselves out of the pack
          • Thanks for those links. Looks to me like they're doing it in the most expensive way possible- milimeter radar guns instead of simple ultrasonic or laser based distance meters. I'm not sure I understand the reasoning behind that- the older tech is well proven and writing software for it is relatively easy once calibrated.
  • by jimstapleton (999106) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @02:21PM (#17115950) Journal
    However, if you need this...
    Aware Car, which provides electronic warning systems to compensate for losses in reflexes."

    You probably shouldn't be driving, unless the car can drive itself, in which case you aren't driving anyway...
    • by drinkypoo (153816)
      Aware Car, which provides electronic warning systems to compensate for losses in reflexes."
      You probably shouldn't be driving, unless the car can drive itself, in which case you aren't driving anyway...

      You shouldn't be flying unless you can see where you're going and/or know WTF you're doing, but that doesn't stop aircraft manufacturers from including collision, stall, and crash warning systems.

      • yes, but those don't reduce the requirements that the pilots need to gain a piloting license either.

        Note: I'm saying this from the perspective (mine) of someone who would probably be able to get a license with such equipment, but cannot now.
        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          BTW I do believe that we need a better test to get a driver's license in this country. Not that the tests are the same from state to state, but perhaps they should (or anywhere there should be a federally mandated minimum.) I think it's way too easy to get a driver's license. Germany has higher speed limits, yet less accidents; licenses are harder to get, easier to lose, and they require more driver training than we do.

      • by Kijori (897770)

        You shouldn't be flying unless you can see where you're going and/or know WTF you're doing

        Personally, I prefer the pilot to be able to see and know what he's doing.

        Or is that why there are two of them in the cockpit?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    had to be said
  • Pill Pets? This technology has been around for ages. They're called "helper monkeys."
  • by mcmonkey (96054) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @02:28PM (#17116048) Homepage
    For the first time, though, this group will be composed of people who have grown up with technology.

    Because of course, technology is a recent discovery. Fire was only discovered is the early 1920s, and as recently as the 1950s most Americans lived in caves and ate dirt.

    Oh, and the world was black and white back then, too. When everything got colorized, old pictures and movies stayed the same, because they were color pictures of the black and white world.

    • Oh, and the world was black and white back then, too. When everything got colorized, old pictures and movies stayed the same, because they were color pictures of the black and white world.

      But how do you explain all those color paintings from that time?
      • by mcmonkey (96054)
        But how do you explain all those color paintings from that time?

        The pigments in the paint were colorized along with the rest of the world. Of course, the artists in those days couldn't see what colors the paint would become. Ever wonder why all those old paintings have Jesus look European?

    • by hey! (33014)

      Because of course, technology is a recent discovery. Fire was only discovered is the early 1920s, and as recently as the 1950s most Americans lived in caves and ate dirt.

      You mean we "ate dirt and were grateful we had it."

      Of course, technology existed when us boomers were young. It just didn't change that fast.

      Back in the day, we had quaint phrases like "atomic age" and "space age" -- as if we expected a thousand years to be dominated by a single technological trend. Now the shelf life of an "age" is more

      • by tverbeek (457094) *
        Of course, technology existed when us boomers were young. It just didn't change that fast.
        Although it's certainly sped up since then, the rate of technological change in the early-to-mid 20th century was already pretty brisk. The Boomers' parents lived through the rise of air flight, automobiles, and telephony from novelty to near-ubiquity.
  • by zumbojo (615389) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @02:29PM (#17116054) Homepage
    So the elderly will have Aware Car, and the rest of us will need Aware-Aware Car to locate and avoid the masses of crazy old drivers in Aware Cars careening all over the highways.

    Dark times lay ahead pedestrians everywhere.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      My question....

      ...will the "Aware Car" be aware that the left turn signal has been blinking for the past 60 miles?

      • My question.... ...will the "Aware Car" be aware that the left turn signal has been blinking for the past 60 miles? They're gunna turn left again SOMETIME, right?
    • I won't need an Aware-Aware Car, just a James Bond car with missiles behind the headlights. Anytime I see a driver with a cap, a flick of a switch rids the world of one more fogey driver that should've had their license taken away from them long before.
  • So how long will it take before everybody decides that these expensive new technologies are actually entitlements that every human being has a right to?
    • by Jzor (982679)
      As soon as everybody decides that quality medical care is something that every human being is entitled to.
      • Why should human beings be entitled to quality medical care?

        What have you done to deserve quality medical care? How far does your entitlement go? Are you entitled to find a smart person and force them to develop better medical care, in order to benefit you? Are you entitled to find someone who has already developed better medical care, and force them to give it to you? Are you entitled to find someone who is providing quality medical care at a price of their own choosing, and force them to lower the pric
  • So I'll never be "irregular" again.
  • HoverRound Racers, edlerly players race around a Walmart on power chairs. Shoppers beware!
  • Instead of making cars safer for the elderly, how about eliminating the need for piloted driving totally? I'm guessing we could slash our over 40 thousands deaths per year to a mere fraction of this if all vehicles were autonomous. Now that cars can navigate autonomously as proven by the DARPA grand challenge and with assist by GPS and WiFi it should be orders of magnitude cheaper to put this in place than a decade ago -- we need only the political will to get the job done. No more drunk drivers and like
  • > With the generation of Baby Boomers starting to enter their 60's, 75 million
    > Americans will cross that line in the next 20 years. For the first time,
    > though, this group will be composed of people who have grown up with
    > technology.

    Because as we all know there was no technology before 1945. Back then everyone lived in caves and ate windfalls.
  • by phamlen (304054) <`phamlen' `at' `mail.com'> on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:22PM (#17116972) Homepage
    As the boomers age, their ability to learn and remember new things will diminish (natural part of aging.) As a consequence, I think they're going to want a computer platform which is stable and unchanging; they aren't going to want the "latest and greatest" every couple of years. Plus, as reflexes get slower, people aren't going to need the latest superfast computer in order to play games. A real market for stability in the consumer marketplace will open up...

    I predict there will be a company that makes its mark in building such a platform for the elderly that has a lifetime of 10-15 years rather than needing to be upgraded every few years. It will probably support email, web browsing, a basic platform for games (including support for those older games that the boomers grew up with and still want to play.) and some kind of remote monitoring to fix things if the user can't. Their business model will probably be built on maintenance fees ("buy this computer, technical support and maintenance is just $20 a month, and you'll never need to relearn the programs.")

    My other prediction: Someone will start developing software games that adapt their speed to people's reflexes - as people get older, their reflexes will slow down but they'll still want to play the game. Imagine Tetris but with some intelligence to adjust to slower reflexes so that the game is still fun for people who have lost their twitchy trigger finger reflexes.

  • I know there's a lot of talk about these, but I can't take it seriously. Not in a country where everyone wants to get on American Idol, or Survivor, or Springer, or some reality show. The reality is people will degrade themselves to no end to gain some fame (or infamy). And the Boomers are the worst of the lot.
    • > I know there's a lot of talk about these, but I can't take it seriously. Not
      > in a country where everyone wants to get on American Idol, or Survivor, or
      > Springer, or some reality show.

      _Everyone_? Are you quite certain of that?
  • For the first time, though, this group will be composed of people who have grown up with technology.
    Yeah, because electric lighting, radio, automatic firearms, automobiles, phonographs, steam and electric trains, gas stoves, and x-rays are really no different from rubbing sticks together.
  • by hellfire (86129) <deviladv.gmail@com> on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @04:01PM (#17117730) Homepage
    Studies have been done that show that people are just as likely to be a technogeek or a technophone regardless of age. Maybe the baby boomers have grown up with more electronic technology than previous, but that doesn't mean that markets will really "open up."

    There's also a stereotype that the older generation tends to be less computer savvy just because they didn't grow up with it. That's also not true, because I had 70 year old professors in college and relatives of my grandmother who are using computers like they were script kiddies and college software pirates. My Grandmother is a luddite, but that's part of her upbringing. She's been a luddite since she was 25, according to her husband.

    It's true that if you grew up with computerized technology, you are more likely to understand something else you haven't seen before, but that's true with anything. There's a marketing myth that expands that which says that if you grew up with a specific technology, you are more likely to buy it. Rubbish. I know plenty of people who don't have cable and who don't own their own computer. These people are in their 20s and 30s!! They work with computers, because in business you almost always have to. But that doesn't mean people like it or have the desire to take it home.

    My father is very intelligent and savvy, but has no desire to learn accounting software so he never uses a computer. My mother is much less savvy, having problems dealing with updates, error messages, and quirky technical problems, but finds things like shopping online very convenient and enjoys email. My father had much more computer exposure before my mother bought their current home computer, she's the one who's urging him to use it more. My parents both belong to that boomer generation.

    My point is that age has nothing to do with it, and I suspect these companies that when target an age group just because they think they might be more technically savvy, they'll be in for a rude awakening as they fall flat on their face.

    They'll also be competing for money of an age group (60+) which is historically known to be full of tightwads. Not because of personality, but because they are retired or near retirement and on a fixed income!! Unless the technology is a cheap robot which can do chores for the elderly and infirm, I don't see anyone making boku bucks selling "cool technogadgets" to seniors of any group.
    • They are marketed to the children of Old People who will be paying to care for the Old People. The Old People trusted their government and employers and didn't do independent retirement saving. Now they are screwed and the coming generations get to pick up the tab. The tab isn't just in money, but in time as well.

      I almost feel sorry for those Old People who are broke...but then I remember how they've been voting for authorotarian candidates and I just can't muster up much sympathy. Let them lay in the b
  • Just a switch on the floor of the passenger side and a beeper operable by said switch. Place spouse in passenger seat and drive somewhat faster than s/he would like. Voila!
  • One thing I saw in the Dec 11 2006 BusinessWeek [businessweek.com] was a cell phone that is *just* a phone (although it does have a 12-15 number memory feature). It's called the Jitterbug from GreatCall [gojitterbug.com].
    • It isn't "just a phone". It has a screen (and it is excessively expensive).
      • When I first saw the commercials I was thinking "oh a cheap simple cell phone for the seniors" but it isn't cheap. They'd be better off buying a GoPhone or something from Wal-Mart.

      • Dunno if I'd call it excessively expensive. It would be nicer at $100 instead of $150, but almost all of the other cell phones on the market are also $100-$600. We're just used to getting them for close to free as part of a long-term contract. (I just bought a Motorola Q... so I don't consider $150 for a basic phone to be overly pricey.)

        And I'd consider a screen to be a must-have feature in a cell phone. First off, it lets you see what number you're dialing. Second, it lets you see who is calling bef
  • I refer you to the interweb's foremost authority on the matter: http://angryflower.com/bobsqu.gif [angryflower.com]
  • by XNormal (8617) on Wednesday December 06, 2006 @05:01AM (#17126096) Homepage
    The regularity of the Japanese tea ritual has been used to create a monitor for the elderly: a water boiler for making tea which sends a distress call if its user does not use at the expected time.

Anyone can do any amount of work provided it isn't the work he is supposed to be doing at the moment. -- Robert Benchley

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