As a diligent follower of trends in technology developments that are inserting into the global aging narrative, I permit myself to be fascinated, not only because of the potential business opportunities but also because this market area has encouraged creativity and innovation with new inter-generational clusters of researchers, designers and marketers looking for ways to augment a healthy longer life.
For me, cutting through the hype and hope, I do propose that even if only a tenth of the technology products find, what is in marketing language an SOM, “serviceable obtainable market” – and land into the hands of consumers in a quick, affordable way, then the whole effort will have been worthwhile.
Yet a product does need to be useful, practical, even if it is simply innovating on an old familiar item like a walker, and the end user must be active (and rewarded) for their insights in the design process.
Among the many global initiatives that have emerged over the last few years, contests like the Stanford Longevity Center Design Challenge, and hackathons such as the current Ideathon 2017, jointly presented Canadian road show by AGE-WELL and Hacking Health are pumping out a wealth of ideas for designs in addition to great interactive dialogue.
Add to that a number of commercial enterprisers investing in everything from robotics to virtual reality and the likes of Peter Thiel, Arthur Levinson and Martine Rothblatt, investing in biotech solutions to extend longevity, preserve our digital data legacy or (the grandest of all pursuits) defeat aging, and what you’ve got is a phantasmagorical landscape of innovation.
TAM, SAM, SOM, how soon is our near future?
As a further spur to my technology fascination relating to aging and longevity, I keep asking two questions:
- What actual products in the near future will become as useful and ubiquitous as we would happily adopt in everyday life?
- How soon is the near future, for a serviceable obtainable market to affect my life and yours?
Call it a silver economy or a longevity economy – I think we are merely tinkering around in the playground with some of these technology-based products. And when I talk to most people who don’t follow this field as much as does this diligent dilettante, I find they are either sceptical about technology removing the human touch, or they don’t see that near future happening for them any time soon.
Some business models that start-up innovators are ideally applying to their market strategy might be useful to help understand, for those in wonder of this phantasmagorical landscape. For example and for simplicity sake, read the TAM, SAM, SOM three part model as explained well in this blog post by Christopher Penn, “a bridge” as he calls himself, between the IT and marketing worlds.
As I think through all the current activity in the aging and longevity market, I wonder that I am just one of the lost serviceable, obtainable souls waiting to benefit from all this.