When it comes to technology innovations in a market that addresses the global aging and longevity narrative, one of the first topic areas the mind usually leads to is health care, which in itself is a broad territory; and within that, one primary focus tends to lean to the theme or category of “aging in place” – AiP. This now makes it about home & health care. With AiP now a commonly accepted market terminology, the trouble here is twofold.
One immediate inference assumes that everything about the technologies is to help people live longer and better in their existing home, which it is not the only purpose for these technologies. The second issue is that the aging in place theme does not center solely on the technology itself. All products or services in this market are not technologies, but rather those provided by companies such as in interior design or nursing care, which you access or augment through a web site or App.
No doubt, this point now makes the way clear in this phantasmagorical landscape of innovation. The AiP technology market alone, according to the US based 2016 “Aging in Place Technology Watch” report, is currently worth $2billion, on its way to $30billion by 2020. However, the trend they predict is “more likely to be based on customization of standard software than creation of senior-specific products.”
Well – if there was ever a clue for business or career opportunities in the tech software sector and the aging in place market!
The front line of technology innovations may well be around the aging in place market segment, and there is more than enough activity going on to prove that. In my own travels, in the Ontario economic region I meet and talk with people in this space, many of whom are still in a start-up phase, teasing around the edges of opportunity.
Yet it’s an oversimplification to say with the aging journey that “in place” is all where it’s at. Information gathering, the buying decision process and the delivery of services, leveraged in part through digital communications is becoming perhaps more complex than making a major purchase like a car or a smartphone. These services and products, whether an actual piece of technology software or accessed by one, are really a family purchase.
And families are mobile. Families are the sons and daughters, relatives or friends who may also act as Powers of Attorney for elder parents; working, traveling, parenting children of their own with aging issues at the other end of the age continuum. So the elder person isn’t the only person in the customer dynamic; it’s a community affair and – there are outer limits to the feasibility of aging in the same place.
Technology innovations will follow us as we age to where ever “place” becomes.
As I see it, the new longevity society landscape is only beginning to be scoped and sketched into our later life thinking. Whatever technology-based solutions and Apps we may be encountering today for direct use in family aging care, will be quickly replaced tomorrow like the latest version of an iPhone. How will artificial intelligence, robotics, and more, not yet invented, help us by the time we spin into the 2020’s? The physical, the cognitive, the social. I wonder.
Footnote. As I mentioned in my Aging & Longevity, Conference Round Up 2017 post on Jan.3rd, there would be more events popping up around the world, sure enough and also to highlight the trends in technology developments, there is a one day tech & aging conference in LA on Thursday Feb.16 – Aging into the Future. Check out speakers and companies involved in this phantasmagorical landscape.