Sometimes it takes a 90 year old designer….

[grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”150″ /]Barbara Beskind has a dream job at age 90. She is on staff as a designer for trendy design consultancy IDEO, which designed the Apple mouse. She was a US Army major who after retirement, designed and holds six patents on inflatable devices that assist children with balance issues. Major Beskind is still working on balance problems, in this case now for people in the senior community where she lives. She’s also working on glasses which would help with face-name recognition, and is a resource for other IDEO designers who check with her on hidden drawbacks, like too-small batteries on automated bifocals that can’t be changed by those with mobility problems. If your company is designing products, health tech, apps and more which will be used by an older market, bring on staff an older, perhaps retired, designer to help your team think it through–and get your own secret weapon. NPR AllTechConsidered (photo from NPR) Hat tip to Founder Steve.

Update: Barbara Beskind is also a featured speaker at Aging 2.0’s Global Innovation Summit in San Francisco, 18-19 May. More information.

Drawn and quartered: digital health consumer study

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Parks Associates’ latest study of potential digital health consumers will come as a confirmation for some of us who’ve been up and down a few hype curves, and be a sobering bucket-of-cold-water for those wedded to the Revolutionary-Transformative-eHealthy-D3H Bandwagon view that digital health will change EVERYONE’s life. Market segmentation is a useful marketing tool for narrowing down your real market to spend those scarce (investor-supplied) funds: those most likely to purchase, and a broad picture of what they look like. As you’ll see in the Parks Associates/TTA graphic above, the market for digital health almost neatly breaks into quarters: the top half has the greatest potential. The report looks at lifestyle/behavior, health, residential and income factors among 2,500 broadband-equipped heads-of-household.

Where’s the surprise party? It’s no surprise that the highest potential market denizens are already health-conscious, good ‘do-bees’ in their diet and exercise and higher in income. The second quarter represents older adults facing health challenges, but already on track with their health ‘mindfulness’–perhaps they are the older, health-challenged versions of the first group. It’s the next two groups and their respective positionings which are the surprise. The Parks study ranks the ‘bad do-bees’ –the already sick with bad health habits and lower incomes–in potential above the young, tech-enthusiastic and healthy–but not health-conscious in their behaviors and also lower in income. Despite all their connectivity, only 28 percent of this group looked up health information online in the past year, contrasting with 38 percent of all responders.

Marketing implications?  I’d be spending my company’s money and time on (more…)

Technology which resonates with the 50+ consumer

If you are a health tech developer, entrepreneur or marketer lost in the forest of the 50+ market, Laurie Orlov of Aging in Place Technology Watch and the new Boomer Health Tech Watch just handed you a map with her latest study for AARP, Challenging Innovators: Matching offerings to the needs of older adults (link to PDF). To appeal successfully to the multiple segments and sub-segments of 50+, there’s more to it than a strong belief that your tech would have been just the thing for your mum or grandmere. The hurdles like reluctant long-term care providers and tech-unfamiliar older adults are significant. Misreading the market, making the tech too complex or identifying it too strongly with ‘old folks’ usually lead to ‘lights out’. Ms Orlov’s pointers take you through testing, crowdfunding, accelerators, the right way to price disrupt, transition point mapping, partnerships and more. A recommended guide.

Over at Aging in Place, Ms Orlov serves up another idea with The ideal wearable for seniors – why not a much-modified PERS which incorporates smartwatch/fitness band capabilities such as dehydration monitoring, activity, blood pressure and other tracking, putting them up on a smartphone app.

‘Silver’ no longer, it’s ‘Lifelong Tech’

International CES’ Silvers Summit now Lifelong Tech. An indicator that the focus in ‘aging tech’ is now less on imposing monitoring systems on older people and more on enabling people of all ages to live better is the name change of one of the ur-events of digital health. The focus is now on the 50+ (78 million strong in the US). With the drop in age is a substantial broadening of interest in technology from smartphones to longevity and social connectedness as well as the traditional safety and improved quality of life. Lifelong Tech will debut at 2015 International CES 6-9 January 2015, though the change isn’t on their materials or website yet. Organizers (Living in Digital Times) remain the same. This Editor will be seeing their short and sweet wearable tech presentation (no windy panels of corporate execs) next Wednesday.  Release