Future technologies are expected to play an important role in supporting independence in later life says one of the main findings from research published this week in the UK. People aged 65 and over who have not grown up with technology around them, perhaps unsurprisingly, find it more difficult to master the latest technologies initially than younger groups do and there are concerns that society could become more inactive and too reliant on technology. This are some of the other main findings given in the report ‘How Tech Savvy are We?’ from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) in the UK.
Although the research was not focused on just the older age group there are some aspects which are particularly looking at this group of people.
There is no clear consensus on which of the six proposed technologies in the research would be most useful in later life – smart healthcare devices are rated most useful by 27%, whilst driver-less cars and robot help are deemed the most useful by only 10%. This suggests a possible disconnect between what industry is developing and what the public actually wants says the IET.
Commenting on the report’s findings, Chris Cartwright, Chair of the IET Information and Communications Sector, is quoted as saying: “It’s great to see strong public support and understanding for the potential benefits new technologies offer an ageing population. But it’s less encouraging that this support is still hindered by concerns around cost, lack of physical activity and loss of human contact. There is also a lack of clarity about which technologies people will find most useful, probably because they are unclear of the benefits.
“A well-thought-out public engagement programme led by Government and industry to highlight the potential of new technologies to address some of society’s biggest challenges, such as the ageing population and an overstretched public health system, would be a very welcome step forward. At the same time, this programme should also address some of the concerns people have about the potential negative outcomes of a technology-reliant society.
The conclusions were based on a survey of 531 nationally representative sample of people from across the UK carried out last year by Research by Design and in-depth telephone interviews of members of the public and academics from five UK universities carried out earlier this year. The research was funded the IET.
The report is available to download at the IET website here.