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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.
  • 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 Kadin2048 (468275) <[slashdot.kadin] [at] []> 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:Pill Pet? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <> 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?
  • 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.
  • by susano_otter (123650) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @02:37PM (#17116158) Homepage
    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 geekoid (135745) <dadinportland@ya ... m minus math_god> on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:04PM (#17116580) Homepage Journal
    I think Air bags prove you wrong.
  • by phamlen (304054) <`phamlen' `at' `'> 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.

  • by hellfire (86129) <> 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.
  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland@ya ... m minus math_god> on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @07:20PM (#17121362) Homepage Journal
    "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.

panic: kernel trap (ignored)