No jokes please. They misplace things, find calories, and have to work to keep their brain’s in tip top shape. Here’s Robin’s guide to boomer apps, freshly served up on Mashable.
Jack York is the CEO and co-founder of It’s Never Too Late. Here are his impressions of CES 2013.
Remember being 10 years old, heading to Disneyland, (I grew up in Southern California so that’s my frame of reference – plug in your own favorite amusement park), feeling your heart race as you waited in line to get on the Matterhorn ??? As you get into your 50’s its hard to replicate those shots of exuberance and guilt free adrenaline, one way to approach that exhilaration for technology consumers is to head to the annual Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas.
The show is a cacophony of technology innovations, solutions and guesses as to the future. And its insanely huge! I’m sure a lot of readers are familiar with the larger senior living provider conferences like Leading Age, AHCA and ALFA – in a good year upwards of 8,000 people will attend those shows. Try this on for size, at CES there are over 153,000 attendees and 3100 exhibitors! The overall floor space takes over approximately the size of 37 football fields – yikes! The techno guru of our company, Michael Gardner, spent 4 days at the show and had a pedometer strapped on to count his steps, final answer for his effort was 98979 steps (49.5 miles).
The show touches everything. All kinds of insane new car designs (be alert for driverless cars!), innovations in audio and video technology, crazy robotics, new types of sensors for the home, virtual interactive gaming devices, preparing for the digital home of the future. And as you wander from booth to booth you meet everyone from the savvy sophisticated executives from world class conglomerates (Samsung, Sony, Phillips, Ford, etc) to the fledging entrepreneurs from remote places in China trying to change the world with their one idea. It’s a Kiplingesque integration of marketing sophistication side by side with the hucksters you meet at a state fair. The fact that its in Vegas only adds to the absurdity of the experience, whatever decadence you choose to partake in on the show floor is matched by the decadence of your choosing at 3 am on the Vegas strip!
My shtick is always leaning towards finding how this paradise of technology and innovation can meander its way into senior living, and aging in general. Part of the solutions are obvious, and the marketplace is catching up with the need. Integrating sensors into clothing to monitor vitals, smart homes of the future that learn an individual’s needs and send the appropriate signals wirelessly to other devices, integrating health and wellness into a person’s smart phone, etc, etc. It is exciting to see that common sense type of mindset beginning to work its way into the mainstream technology landscape. I always enjoy, however, finding nuggets of technology that 100% contribute to the quality of the older person’s (or disabled person’s) quality of life.
Two things I fell in love with, and we’ll integrate into our own product pending testing results, are inexpensive, engaging, life changing devices. The first is a baseball cap, yes, a baseball cap! What’s so special about it? You put the hat on, and a small, undetectable wireless speaker embedded in the hat rests alongside your skull. Just wear your hat, and the sound from your phone or PC is conducted directly into your inner ear through vibration. Our CIO, Lili Dwight, has not had hearing in one of her years for almost ten years and she texted me from DIA last week (with her hat on) saying for the first time in the last decade she could listen to music stereophonically. And the guy hawking it was awesome – Mike Freeman, the product developer. (www.maxvirtual.com). He was wildly exuberant, hands flailing away left and right as he tried to revolutionize the world one ear at a time. The other device was a musical instrument called Beamz, it’s a 3 pronged instrument about the size of a 20” monitor where when you put your hands between the prongs of the device you break a laser beam that plays a specific musical instrument. A musical neophyte like me can be transformed into a concert pianist or a jazz guitarist depending on the background music you can seamlessly select. And it runs right off of your PC. What I love about it from our company’s perspective is that it is just as appropriate for a person far down the dementia path as it is for someone fiercely independent at 93, no skill necessary to apply!
I like to have my ideas verified by industry experts, so the week after CES I took both of these devices with me to the headquarters of Brookdale Senior Living in Tennessee. To my delight, they got it! Their staff enjoyed playing with the musical instrument, and fundamentally saw the benefit of the hat for the thousands of residents they serve with varying degrees of hearing loss. Their executives care about this stuff! You should hear one of the their executive VP’s (Todd Kaestner) talk in detail about ambient decibels and background noises and how that can impact a residents quality of life – I can’t keep up! It’s the perfect storm to find organizations who look at technology as something above and beyond medical records and pill dispensing.
Another thing I like about CES is the mindset of commercialization and the appropriate price points. Over the years I’ve attending dozens of conferences dealing with various types of adaptive technology and software / hardware solutions. The problem is the price points, its great to see technologies that can change people’s lives but if no one can afford them what’s the point. It’s a tough line to walk but the very definition of “consumer” electronics means you’re trying to reach the masses, that means the price points matter. The baseball cap, for example, will cost about $50 – $60 dollars. Think about that for next year’s Christmas gift for Grandpa!
So my recommendation for any of you technophiles, or even technophobes, is to get CES on your bucket list. It’s a no lose proposition. You’ll find things that benefit yourself, benefit the elders many of your serve, benefit people you love, whether it be your grandkids or your mother in law. And you can instantly become hip to your own kids. Next year I’m bringing my 20 year old son JP and my 18 year old son Nathan with me to the event, they’ll be able to explain to me all of the things I can’t figure out. The world is changing whether we like it or not, CES is a way to hop on the train and see which way the world is turning. All that’s required to attend is a few hundred dollars of cash and your imagination.
**We’d just like to note that registration for CES is restricted to business professionals with ties to the technology industry, and is not open to the general public. That’s why we write about the greatest new things we see at CES every year – to get the word out to all of you!
Change has always been the domain of the young. From the end of the Vietnam War to the Arab Spring, it’s not parents who are out there advocating change, it’s the youth. In the online world, it’s time to get kids, especially the web-savvy ones, to take a stronger role in their own safety and etiquette.
I attended the annual meeting for FOSi (Family Online Safety Institute) a few weeks ago and was gratified that instead of the decades of scare tactics about how much trouble kids can find on the internet, there was a commitment to good research and to working hand in hand with kids instead of trying to hand down ultimatums.
What Kids Know That Parents Don’t: For one thing, they know how much of a mess the Internet really is, and how ill-equipped their parents are to serve as guides. The research FOSi commissioned found that while 84% of parents felt they monitored their teen’s online behavior very closely, a much smaller percentage of teens (39%) actually felt as if they were being monitored closely. The same perception gap was reported when 91% of parents felt they knew about their teen’s activities, while teens reported that their parents were not particularly well informed. Parent’s biggest knowledge gaps were in social networking areas, especially with newer sites and topics like Pinterest, Instagram and mobile apps. Parents and teens both claimed to worry about identity theft, invasion of privacy and a blotted school record. Teens expressed concern that parents didn’t fully understand the ferocity of images that are posted without consent, and “regrettable” comments online.
A Platform for Good: Most of the research underscores that kids are a bit more in touch with the realities of connected living, and learning quickly how to show caution when necessary. That’s real evolution. One of the best things to come out of the sessions was the launch of Platform for Good, where parents, teachers and kids can band together to effect positive change in the world using online connections. In a nice sway from the predictable, the project features high school students that appear in small vignettes teaching parents about what goes on that they ought to know about. They use a little charm, a lot of humor and offer up good honest kid advice on subjects as wide ranging as: mobile apps, setting up mobile phone features, reputation, and gaming.
For parents who don’t know a Pintrest from a pint of milk, an hour on this site goes a long way towards a reality check.
Wellocrasy to launch at International CES 2013 Silvers Summit. Check it out: http://chealthblog.connected-health.org/2012/11/25/wellocracy-is-coming-watch-for-it/
Try as you might to stay looking and feeling your youngest, there’s no denying that eyesight, reflexes, memory, and hearing all reach a peak and then slowly slip. Irritating? Certainly. But technology is getting better and better about picking up some of the slack. Robin Raskin wrote this piece for Mashable, filled with great ideas on how to hold back the ravages. Check it out here: http://mashable.com/2012/11/13/tech-to-help-with-aging/