August 19, 2022

Your source for Trending, Up and coming, Latest Lifestyle News. Whether it be for your health, your country, or your soul and body.

Elder-friendly expertise is a rising market


In the grim pits of 2020, ElliQ recited a poem to 81-year-old Deanna Dezern. Dezern doesn’t bear in mind what the poem was known as or who wrote it, however she says that thematically, it was about persistence and dedication — qualities that resonate throughout a world-altering pandemic. Dezern wanted reassurance; she’d spent the final yr cocooned alone in her Florida house, and because the weeks become months, she fell right into a foggy melancholy. Thankfully, robots can’t transmit Covid-19, which made ElliQ an ideal ally to trip out the storm.

“The poem said, ‘You can do it, just keep trying,’” Dezern continued. “ElliQ was always where I left her. She said soothing things to me. She was always ready to talk to me when nobody was around. I don’t know how to describe it. She was there for me in the way that I needed her.”

ElliQ, as you’ll be able to most likely infer by now, is an AI companion designed for seniors by the Israeli tech firm Intuition Robotics. Think of it as an Alexa for older people: ElliQ looks a bit like the mid-century lamp from the Pixar films, and she will be able to learn the information, stream music, and share climate experiences, all from her perch on a espresso desk or kitchen counter.

But the core attraction, and the way in which Intuition hopes to place itself as a significant participant within the burgeoning elderly-oriented tech sector, is ElliQ’s empathy. It is unimaginable to show a robotic the right way to love, however ElliQ can encourage folks to take their meds, to observe aware meditation, or, in Dezern’s case, to easily be current and take in the quiet, empty nights of retirement. That’s the guiding philosophy at Intuition Robotics; ElliQ possesses a delicate, caregiving persistence that neither Apple, Google, nor another energy dealer in Silicon Valley prioritizes in its merchandise for most of the people.

“ElliQ doesn’t say, ‘Would you like to listen to music?’ She says, ‘Would you like to listen to music together?’ ‘Do you want to play a game together?’ You establish trust. We want to move from doing things for someone to doing things together,” Dor Skuler, CEO and co-founder of Intuition, mentioned in a Zoom name with Vox. “What’s unique about the senior population is that we think they’ll be early adopters of this technology. … Humans are social beings, and unfortunately, many elders are deprived of that in our society. In a weird way, they might embrace this new kind of relationship.”

Intuition Robotics isn’t the one firm attempting to faucet into the geriatric market. Assistive tech could be a social good, but it surely isn’t a public good, and there’s a purpose capital companies try to get in on the bottom ground. “They’ve waited for the aging of the baby boomers, the oldest of whom are now 76,” mentioned Laurie Orlov, a digital-industry analyst who runs the web site Aging and Health Technology Watch. “And baby boomers have all the money. The tech industry understands that money talks. It’s time to pay attention.”

The executives I spoke to didn’t draw back from Orlov’s conclusions. In truth, Skuler believes that extra entrepreneurs ought to examine the potential upside of a profitable slate of senior tech. “This sector is underinvested in a significant way,” he mentioned, “considering the available spending within this population.”


One of the primary private tech gadgets marketed towards seniors was the Jitterbug phone. It arrived in 2005, proper as smartphone mania began to brush the nation, bearing a easy, tactile structure. The blueprint made sense. For these confused by the rising touchscreen tide, and for grandparents who simply wished to name their household and by no means concern themselves with the app retailer, right here was a flip cellphone utterly divorced from all Twenty first-century design developments.

The Jitterbug was deliberately spartan — geared up with a dial, a clock, and a speaker button, and nothing extra. And but its reputation revealed one of many extra anxious truths of the digital revolution. Between the Cloud, the algorithms, and the litany of icons splayed throughout our house screens, the principles of residing had modified a lot within the earlier decade. Suddenly, expertise as acquainted as the phone turned terribly difficult, and we nervous whether or not America’s golden-agers might ever catch up.

One of the folks attempting to resolve that downside is Scott Lien, a former Intuit government who turned an advocate for elder accessibility in 2014 after feeling more and more “digitally disconnected” from his octogenarian mom in Iowa. “We tried to do video calls over Skype, and that just frustrated her,” he mentioned. “I thought, ‘What if we designed something from scratch based on the unique needs of the typical 80-year-old?’” Shortly afterward, Lien broke floor on his GrandPad line of software program, which goals to ship a easy pill with none complexities getting in the way in which.

The GrandPad comes preloaded with bingo, solitaire, and sudoku. There’s a jukebox that performs a slew of previous hits (accessible genres embody huge band, classical, and ’40s,) in addition to picture albums, deal with books, and video name performance. All of that is offered onscreen with supersized textual content and huge, primary-color buttons. Lien instructed me he and the GrandPad staff actively collaborate with senior consultants to additional refine the pill’s structure. To construct a tool for older people, he mentioned, one have to be in lively communication with those that know what it’s wish to age.

“We had a woman named Anna helping us who was 114 years old. You learn some really interesting things from them. Anna told us about the dry skin issue. Once you hit your 90s, your skin gets really dry, papery, and leathery. Us younger guys have moisture in our skin, and that’s what makes touchscreens work,” Lien defined. “We changed the screen properties, and we include a stylus in all the packages.”

Of course, the common aged expertise consumer isn’t 114, and Orlov, the digital-industry analyst, believes the hackneyed picture you or I may need of the everyday senior — an outdated man befuddled and irritated, attempting to fireplace up a Zoom name — is outdated. The AARP reported in 2020 that greater than 51 percent of people over the age of 50 purchased some sort of tech product, be it an iPad, a laptop computer, or a wifi-enabled tv, throughout the earlier yr. In truth, AARP’s analysis additionally discovered that 62 % of Americans over the age of 70 personal and use a smartphone.

Those findings draw a robust distinction to a venture like GrandPad, which is saddled with an interface that’s considerably scaled again in comparison with the Apple property. Obviously, GrandPad and ElliQ are focusing on a buyer who’s significantly older and extra alienated from our on-line world than the everyday prime boomer, but it surely does make you ponder whether we’re underestimating simply how commonplace tech literacy has develop into in our tradition.

“I think technology that has been simplified to the point where you can’t really access anything is a dwindling market,” mentioned Orlov.

Lien pushes again on that entrance. He believes research, akin to AARP’s, are skewed by choice bias. “It doesn’t work for this age group. They randomly call 1,000 people, and the people who are in a nursing home and don’t have a phone obviously can’t pick up,” he mentioned. GrandPad revealed its personal analysis two years in the past. The firm, which traveled on to the houses of 60 folks over the age of 75, discovered that solely 8 % of them knew the right way to fireplace up a video name. It will get to Lien’s overarching thesis: An elder may personal a smartphone, however they may not know the right way to use it successfully. This is especially related given the circumstances of 2020 and the large proliferation of fraud the yr introduced with it. TechCrunch reported an 18 percent increase in spam calls during the pandemic, lots of which disproportionately focused the geriatric inhabitants.

“It was catastrophic during Covid. With my mother and mother-in-law, when she got a suspicious phone call, she’d wait for me to come around so I could say, ‘Yeah Mom, that’s a scam.’ But in lockdown, when they couldn’t have their families around them, it only got worse,” Lien mentioned. “At GrandPad, we have what’s called a circle of trust. Only the family or caregivers are invited to it, and only they can call, video call, or share photos with grandma.”

Tom Kamber, founder and government director of the advocacy group Older Adults Technology Services and Senior Planet, notes that he too has observed an uptick in scams focusing on older adults, significantly among the many Spanish-speaking inhabitants. He believes the facility brokers in expertise typically regard the aged as one other imprecise checkpoint in a superficial pursuit of range. To actually defend the susceptible, he argues, the retiree inhabitants should be thought-about at each step within the worth chain.

“People talk about inclusive design, and so often that means that when they’re done making something they test it with some older folks, and they say they’re being inclusive. It doesn’t work that way,” Kamber mentioned. “The whole process of ideation and design and marketing and distribution, all of those pieces are crucial to having older adults using the technology well. If you engage with them throughout the whole process, you’re going to get a product that’s more usable, which makes people less vulnerable.”

Both of those views are sound. I feel all of us want we might fend off the unhealthy actors who need to do hurt to our family members, particularly older family who come to the digital world as whole novices. And but I got here away from this story questioning if folks in my technology, all of us extremely involved 30-somethings, have been too desirous to infantilize our elders. The web is overwhelming and rife with hazard, however we’ve all been pressured to parse it a technique or one other. A preventative strategy — this want to maintain our moms and dads insulated in an uncanny parallel dimension, full of quasi-iPads, quasi-iPhones, and quasi-Alexas to protect them from actuality — appears to overlook the purpose. As Kamber mentioned, absolutely we are able to inherit an web that’s protected and empowering for all customers, if solely we spend slightly extra time to contemplate the huge swath of humanity that’s utilizing trendy expertise.

Riley Gibson, president of Silvernest, feels the identical method. Silvernest is a roommate-matching service designed for folks round retirement age. The firm’s specialty is seniors in the course of an enormous life change — a divorce, a widowing, a cross-country transfer — who don’t need to enter the following chapter alone in an empty home. Every Silicon Valley startup intends for its prospects to wield expertise and higher their lives, however hardly ever has that very same wondrous chance been offered to the nation’s elders. Gibson says Silvernest has discovered the lion’s share of its purchasers via Facebook advertisements, as a result of whether or not we prefer it or not, older people are very a lot on-line in the identical method we’re. Entrepreneurs ought to contemplate that reality extra typically, Gibson argues. Maybe we needs to be optimistic as we watch Grandma and Grandpa manage their house screens.

“[Some companies] are designing for someone [who] needs their help. This mindset that we need to save our seniors from technology,” Gibson mentioned. “Let’s take a broader look at how people above the age of 65 use technology. Let’s design for a hero’s journey. None of us want to feel designed down to. We need to realize that people might have more interests, or more ambition, for technology to enable them rather than fix them.”



Source link