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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

10 Best Cutting-Edge Technologies for Older Adults

10 Best Cutting-Edge Technologies for Older Adults

Robots and more from the largest tech innovation show solve problems that affect older adults and help them age in place.

More than 4,000 companies exhibited at this year’s CES (formerly the Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas, showing off the world’s latest and greatest consumer technologies. For the past five decades, this has been the place where incubators and startups present their products, and more established companies introduce the results of their latest research to the world. This is a sampling of what global pioneers have to offer.

Benefits of Voice First Technology for Older Adults

For the last few years, software developers have been pushed to develop products for mobile users, but the emphasis is changing. Voice First is the new mantra, promoting applications and services activated and controlled by speaking.

Older adults, caregivers and service providers recognize the giant advantages of voice-driven applications over those on phones and personal computers. Those with visual impairment or motor difficulties reap obvious benefits, but significant improvement in quality of life is available to all senior adults.

Key differences exist between current Voice First technology and previous generations that affect all users, but especially older adults. The following is an overview of notable features.

  • Voice First is simple to use. Download versions and upgrades are rendered unnecessary. Amazon Echo guides the user by voice through installation and setup, offering tips and suggestions in large font. However, if the user has no prior knowledge of modern technology, some training is required, particularly to control lights and room temperature.
  • Voice First is affordable. The Google Home Mini and Amazon Echo Dot are neck-in-neck for the race to the cheapest price point. The only word of caution is that both require Wi-Fi connectivity to work, which is not always a given in senior communities or private homes.
  • Voice First offers useful content. Cooking timers, alarms, medication reminders and the like are utilitarian, but jokes, weather reports, streaming music, audio stories, and news can keep older adults connected to the outside world in ways that were previously impossible.
  • Voice First learns as it goes. Update cycles bring new user experiences based on your preferences. Artificial intelligence knows who you are and what you like, and can remind you how functions work. Forgetful adults can ask, “Hey Google, how do I play music?” a hundred times without an iota of irritation from the voice assistant.
  • Voice First returns a sense of power and control. Home automation with voice control produces an unexpected benefit. Taking control of room temperature, lighting and an outdoor camera all from the comfort and security of your favorite chair offers older adults a renewed feeling of being in charge of their surroundings.
  1. Woohoo. Billed as “a tool through which families can care for both elderly parents and children via an interactive and intuitive interface,” Woohoo uses features such as gesture control, motion- and fall-detection, a smart camera with facial recognition, natural language processing voice commands, and audio/video conferencing to connect home and office. You can control every device through the artificial intelligence platform and a mobile app. Woohoo can monitor pets via the camera, tell you Mom’s blood pressure is fine, order up an Uber or make a hands-free call. Woohoo is the control center for your smart home, and more. Offered previously at an enticingly low $50, it requires a monthly fee like your phone. Discover more at SmartBeings.

  2. IQbuds. Wireless earbuds create a custom listening profile by evaluating the user’s hearing. They use an app dubbed Ear ID to automatically calibrate the earbuds to the wearer, using a hearing test you’d normally only get from an audiologist. Of particular interest to older adults, noise control technology can selectively tune out the world around you, while speech amplification enhances your ability to hear conversations in crowded restaurants, at events or at parties. The earbuds retail for about $200. Find out more at Nuheara.

  3. Lookout Smart Door Viewer. The tiny door viewer is designed to work with the company’s ezGuard security camera, or pair it with Amazon Alexa. What sets this system apart is how it uses facial recognition. Using the EZVIZ app, the homeowner can allow friends and family to access the home. The Lookout Smart Viewer sells for $299.99, the ezGuard for $109.99. Learn more at TechCrunch.

  4. Cutii. Simple robot Cutii provides a full catalog of activities and services that seniors can access with vocal and facial recognition. It can’t do chores like cooking or washing dishes, but it does schedule and coordinate enrichment and well-being activities like contacting family members, setting doctor appointments and registering for fitness classes. Control Cutii with a remote or leave it to navigate autonomously around the home. Cutii comes with a price tag of about $60 per month. Explore Cutii at Digital Trends.

  5. Buddy. Charming robot Buddy can keep up a conversation with anyone in your family, monitor your home, play music and videos, and more. Buddy is a lot like an Amazon Echo with a face and wheels, although Alexa isn’t along for the ride. Buddy can “play” with kids or keep an eye on aging parents. Because he’s open source, he will continue to evolve and learn. Although not currently on the market, preorders are in process at Blue Frog Robotics.

  6. Lenovo Smart Display. "The Lenovo Smart Device, intended to compete with the Echo Show, the interface design is different to that of a phone, however. Everything is larger, bolder, pared down without the ultra-detail that you'll find from Google Assistant on a phone. This is to keep things simple, to typically keep your hands off the device – although the touchscreen is perfectly usable – and help focus, including playing music, making calls, recognizing different voices." Due to launch in July 2018, the 10-inch model is expected to cost $249, the 8-inch model $199. Find out more at Pocket-Lint.

  7. Invoxia Triby Speaker. Filling a hole in Amazon’s own product line, the battery-powered speaker features an embedded Alexa and can mount on your kitchen refrigerator. With voice control and a smart speaker, internet radio, hands-free speakerphone and a connected message board, Triby can really make your life easier. “Use the Alexa Voice Service to play music, provide information, get the news, set alarms, control smart home devices, and more just using your voice. Just say ‘Alexa’ and Triby responds instantly.” Originally $199.99, a new Triby is available for $79.99 on eBay. Learn more at CNET.

  8. Corti. Running in the background during an emergency dispatch call, Corti analyzes the caller’s words and any background noises, such as the victim’s breathing pattern. It checks for symptoms of cardiac arrest, then prompts the dispatcher to ask appropriate questions, or walks the caller through CPR to stabilize the patient until paramedics arrive. The Danish product hopes to launch soon in the U.S. Find out more at MobiHealthNews.

  9. MobileHelp and Samsung GearWatch. A maker of home and wearable medical alert devices is teaming up with electronics giant Samsung to deliver emergency response capabilities to Gear smartwatches. MobileHelp Smart integrates the alert platform into the watch while taking advantage of fitness-monitoring features, GPS and cell capabilities. Preorders are available here. Get details at Research Park.

  10. ADT Health on Samsung GearWatch. Power trio ADT security, Reemo Health and Samsung have joined to create a personal emergency response system. You can maintain your coolness factor no matter your age by ditching the traditional pendant or wristband for a Gear watch. A quick tap connects you immediately to a specially-trained ADT agent. The watch can also track fitness trends, including number of steps and heartrate, to encourage activity and help you maintain an independent lifestyle. Prices vary. Learn more at ADT.


Aging In Place Technology Watch,” Laurie M. Orlov.

Five Technologies Useful for Older Adults,” Laurie M. Orlov.

What you say should help get what you need,” Laurie M. Orlov.

The Future of Voice First Technology and Older Adults,” Laurie M. Orlov.

Consumer Technology Association,” Consumer Technology Association.

Five More New Technologies For Older Adults,” Laurie M. Orlovn.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors