It's the end of the year and time for a wrap-up of the indicators from 2009 that will drive trends for 2010.
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 developed further. The year was GPS enabled!
2. Home automation technology vendors see possibilities. Just as home remodelers see possibilities in aging in place retrofits (70% of NAHB builders in 2009), home automation vendors also see possibilities in the market in a bad economy.
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 become more accepted. A quiet revolution is happening in health care delivery: shared doctor visits, the video doctor “virtual visit,” health care without the doctor (for example, tracking and transmission of self-test results such as blood coagulation levels), etc. And this is before passage of any health care bill! Here’s a memorable passage from the New York Times article: "The only constant is change and resistance to change."
5. Touch screens and eReaders set to take off. Touch screens became ubiquitous during 2009 for product demonstration computers used to demo software—like the Asus EEE, for example. And eReaders, which are particularly well suited to the boomer/senior population, saw rollout of the impressive Sony with touch screen as an 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. The impact may have been limited in 2009, but validation of the market’s importance should be seen in 2010.
7. Broadband access and Internet use among seniors grows. According to Forrester's research, 63% of 64- to 73-year-olds are online at least monthly. And Nielsen noted that six 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. The 2009 merger of Caring.com and Gilbert Guide forged 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, meaning 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 Jitterbug's acquisition in the mobile PERS arena.
10. Last but not least, VCs show interest in aging in place technology. Finally, 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; and Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Kleiner Perkins, and Physic Ventures are all examining the health and boomer markets.
Add your observations. We'll have a great 2009 roundup!
By Laurie Orlov
Aging in Place Technology Watch Blog
[Originally posted December 21, 2009, at Laurie's Aging in Place Technology Watch Web site.]