While watching and reading many of the reviews for the Apple Watch, it seems the technology talking heads overlook a rapidly growing consumer base. The market includes older adults, care for those with chronic conditions, living independent at home with caregivers, and other geriatric and disability related conditions.
The United Nations’ estimates that those 65 years or older will triple over the next 50 years. Actually, this already happened over the previous 50 years. Population estimates in the US illustrates similar trends. Those 65 or older will constitute 13% to 17% of the overall US population of the coming decades. In fact, its believed that we will see more aunts over 65 than children under 15.
In this Youtube video, the leery emotions related to sharing heartbeats through haptic feedback features illustrates a shortsightedness common amongst his demographic. An individual with a cardiovascular condition will convey excitement over the chance to send their heartbeats to their family, caregiver, emergency services, or primary care facility in the case of an emergency. Right now, home monitoring systems enables this to occur, but what if the person leaves their house to head to the store or on vacation? This is why sending a simple heartbeat remotely should be met with applause and not concerns.
Recently, research started to evaluate how technology might improve quality of life measures for the aging population. In this study, simply providing a tablet with some games, journaling, and emailing features increase the happiness for those in an extended care facility. Studies like this spawned devices like the Angela, which are intuitive off the shelf touch screen devices that connects a senior with their family through social media, primary care managers, each other, and even with medication tracking. This focus is not new. remember those studies involving the Nintendo Wii? Findings like this one showed a dramatic increase in health and wellbeing.
So what needs to happen next?
In my opinion, each of us who hammers away at blogs or post review videos must remember other people exist who are not like us. As announced during the G3iCT M-Enabling Summit, 85% of the world’s mobile device user base benefits from an accessibility feature. For the end-users, let your desires for these products be known to their developers. Finally, I implore developers to make accessibility a part of the foundation for all product development. Just as Apple proved with their accessibility initiatives for iOS and OS X, its both possible and profitable.