Inhabitech were fortunate enough to attend the Aging In America and Boomer Business Summits in New Orleans earlier in April.

Learnings

During the AIA conference there was a morning dedicated to sharing learnings from implementing new ideas around aging and testing out future approaches. Inhabitech spoke to Alison Larsen of the Department of Information Systems and The Erickson School of Aging Studies at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) about their research on how Voice User Interfaces could be used with older adults, in their own homes, suffering early stage cognitive disorders.

Supporting Care Partners with the Amazon Echo Research via The Erickson School of Aging Studies at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County

The study was conducted over a 3 month period and the purpose was to determine the care activities that a home-based voice user interface (VUI) technology, such as the Amazon Echo, could support after the onset of mild neurocognitive disorder (mNCD). The study was hoping to understand how to design and implement technology from a quality of life perspective versus focusing on diagnosis.

Over a 3 month period as you can see from the chart above and the report Caring and Amazon Echo Research, the activities of both the caregiver and the care recipient were assisted on a daily basis and overall the research concluded that voice was indeed an improvement for the activities that are needed to be carried out on a daily basis.

Inspiration

The keynote presentation at the Boomer Business Summit curated by Mary Furlong, was from AARP  Innovation Head Dr Charlotte Yeh. Her speech emphasized that now is the moment to truly #disruptaging. Consider that the over 50 age group are large consumers of entertainment content, yet only 1.5% of actors are elderly or over 50, and for those who are on TV the amount of dialogue given to them is less than 5% of all dialogue. Secondly, consider the imagery that is used for older adults – usually white haired, alone and often physically challenged. 53% of all “old people” images show people alone. How did we get here? The fastest growing workforce group is currently the over 50 year olds. By 2020 over 25% of the US workforce will be over 65. It is time for all companies big and small to rethink how older adults can contribute and make a difference. Millennials and Gen Z are looking for Mentors and companies like Cir.kel are trying to facilitate these experiences.

As a reminder for user experience design principles in product and service development Dr Yeh showed the slide below, which we at Inhabitech strongly agree with, and aim to emulate with all our products and services. 

AARP Design rules for Aging Tech

Note, a date for diaries – Design and Venture Capital Boomer Summit will take place on 5-6th June in Oakland, CA and you can get tickets here: http://www.boomerventuresummit.com/

General Observations

Over the 4 days the biggest differences between the two conferences were the day to day challenges faced by those in the caregiving industry today at the AIA conference dealing with the complexity of the healthcare systems and how to pay for provision to the ongoing challenges of being understaffed and lack of an available caregiving workforce. Meanwhile upstairs at the Boomer Summit, the rays of optimism from new technologies coming to market targeting loneliness, management of diseases in older adults and the awareness that things have to change, and belief that they can be changed.

I personally left with hope that these two worlds will increasingly collide and together we will all #disruptaging and push for a better, fairer, equitable healthcare and care management system focused on the user.

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