It’s the end of the year and time for that wrap-up of the indicators from 2009 that will drive trends for 2010 — what it all means — more analysis on another day.
1. Location-aware tech enables more info, greater safety. GPS became even more useful in 2009. Verizon replaced its Chaperone service with Family Locator, The Alzheimer’s Association introduced its ComfortZone(powered by OmniLink), several other tracking technology vendors launched, and location-based mapping and direction technologies, 2009 was a good GPS-enabled year.
2. Home automation technology vendors see possibilities. Just as home remodelers see possibilities in aging-in-place retrofits (70% of NAHB builders in 2009), in a bad economy, home automation vendors also saw possibilities in the market.
3. Mobile health app possibilities grow. Mobile web usage during 2009 got a growth spurt from boomers and seniors — and spawned new apps like LiveNurse from Jitterbug. According to Gartner, mobile health applications (along with location-based apps) are in the top 10 application growth areas for consumers.
4. Virtual doctors’ visits and other health innovations. A quiet revolution is happening in health care delivery, from shared doctor visits, the video doctor ‘virtual visit’, and health care without the doctor — tracking and transmission of self-test results — like blood coagulation levels. And this is before passage of any health care bill! Memorable from the NY Times article: “The only constant is change and resistance to change.”
5. Touch screens and eReaders. Touch screens became ubiquitous during 2009 for product demonstration computers used to demo software — like the Asus EEE, for example. And eReaders – particularly well-suited to the boomer/senior population saw the impressive Sony with touch screen as alternative to the Kindle.
6. Big companies invest in monitoring and telehealth technologies. Let’s reflect on GE and its acquisition of QuietCare, Intel and its $250 million partnership with GE, and Bosch (VitelNet), all added to Philips (read this backgrounder) as big firms intent on roles in the aging/health monitoring arena — limited impact in 2009, but validation of market importance in 2010.
7. Broadband access and Internet use among seniors grows. According to Forrester’s research, 63% of 64-73-year-olds are online at least monthly. And Nielsen noted that 6 million more seniors are online today than five years ago — most likely because their broadband adoption has grown from 19% to 30% in the past year.
8. Caregiver portals and tools blossom. 2009 saw the merger of Caring.com and Gilbert Guide, forging the market’s first million-views-per-month usage profile. As I once heard Jerry Shereshewsky, CEO of Grandparents.com, say: that’s the minimum level of usage in which advertisers take notice. In addition, many have jumped into the Caregiving space and will launch in 2010 — shared caregiver communication, health monitoring, and more.
9. Personal emergency response systems get a makeover. In 2009, we saw the emergence of Halo Monitoring’s fall detection chest strap and belt clip, mobile PERS entrant, Medical Mobile Monitoring, and then reflect on Jitterbug’s acquisition in the Mobile PERS arena.
10. Last but not least, VCs show interest in aging in place technology. Finally, but not least, during 2009, we saw several VC investments in the aging in place tech arena, including a $7.5 million investment in WellAWARE Systems from Valhalla Partners and .406 Ventures; Menlo Ventures made an investment in Wellcore; Shasta Ventures invested $10 million in Caring.com; Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Kleiner Perkins, and Physic Ventures are all examining the health, boomer markets.
Add your observations — and we’ll have a great 2009 roundup!
Laurie M. Orlov, a tech industry veteran, writer, speaker and elder care advocate, is the founder of Aging in Place Technology Watch, a market research firm that provides thought leadership, analysis and guidance about technologies and related services that enable boomers and seniors to remain longer in their home of choice. In addition to her technology background and years as a technology industry analyst, Laurie is a certified long-term care ombudsman in Florida and the author of When Your Parents Need Elder Care.