FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Technology Keeps Seniors Independent, Safe

We've explored before how senior citizens represent a burgeoning online market, especially as the first of 2.8 million tech-savvy Baby Boomers turn 60. We've also looked at how products can be better designed for seniors. Yet seniors are now benefitting from an array of other technologies designed just for them.

Seniors can benefit from LCD screens that provide information on prescription drugs, wrist watches and pendants that monitor the wearer's well-being and alert family members if something is amiss, walkers with built-in navigation devices that operate in pervasive computing environments, and games that allow physical therapists and physicians to monitor players' motor skills. A pervasive system called QuiteCare uses a series of motion detectors to monitor seniors' whereabouts and "learn" their behavior patterns so any abrupt changes can be noted immediately.

This week, technologists showcased their cutting-edge wares in Washington in conjunction with the White House Conference on Aging. Elsewhere, a supermarket chain in the UK is testing a system that allows seniors to order groceries online by scanning barcodes in a catalog.

In all these technologies, the goal is to enhance seniors' level of independence while being as unobtrusive and user-friendly as possible. Many of these technologies also transmit critical information back to caregivers and family members in real time, allowing them to intervene quickly if a problem appears.

Source: Washington Post, Medgadget