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Sunday, August 23, 2020

Three Top Trends From CES 2020

We found the best of tech for older adults and their caregivers from CES 2020 — ranging from a rolling robot to hearing aids.

Every year, the Consumer Electronics Show demos the latest tech gadgets. Held in January, the show predated the pandemic and thus had a full complement of products to preview. With a current market of 115 million Americans older than 50, more and more resources are dedicated to solving their needs and issues. This year was no exception.

One of these items has yet to hit the market, so this is a good chance to take a look at what is in the pipeline. We found a trio of contenders that appear to be strong bets to hit online bestseller lists in the near future. See if you agree:

1. Samsung’s Ballie

This grapefruit-sized rolling robot is like a voice assistant with the added feature of being able to recognize you, follow you around and check off tasks. Did you take your pills? Do your exercises? Ballie knows. Its camera can learn to recognize all types of chores and note if they are done.

Perhaps its most important role is as a fall detector. If it senses a tumble, it can ask the person if it should call 911. Much has been made of the reluctance of older adults to adopt technology that looks like it is meant for older adults. Having a rolling robot shadow you is a whole lot cooler than wearing a pendant.

“Social robots have struggled to find a home in recent years,” said Steve Koenig, vice president of market research at the Consumer Technology Association, in a press briefing. “If you have an aging loved one at home, you want the peace of mind to know that their medication was dispensed. Treating people, like seniors with Alzheimer’s, requires a focus on the human-machine interaction.”

Image Source: Samsung

The always-near, rolling Ballie may encourage more interaction than a voice assistant that sits on a shelf. However, the tech show demonstration didn’t provide a lot of substance. But one other notable ability of the small yellow robot was to summon an ultraviolet light dispenser to sanitize the home. In the era of COVID, that is looking like a win.

Ballie is at present a concept product only, with no release date or price.

2. MedWand

This handheld medical product was one of the winners of the coveted Last Gadget Standing award prize. Weighing in at a mere 4 ounces, it contains a number of devices that enable it to carry out 10 common health tests:
  • Stethoscope to listen to heart, lungs, and abdomen    
  • Otoscope for ear exams 
  • Ophthalmoscope for eye exams 
  • Dermatoscope for skin exams 
  • Throat illuminator for oral exams 
  • Pulse oximeter for oxygen levels 
  • Pulse rate monitor
  • Thermometer 
  • Respiratory rate monitor
  • EKG
It is easy to use, and results can be shared remotely with doctors in real time via computer connection. In other words, telemedicine gets a big boost by having simple exam results available on the spot. The wand’s creator, Samir Qamar, envisions the device being used in homes, hospices, and care facilities for older adults. With a proposed retail price of $399 and a monthly subscription fee that may be covered by insurance, that seems easily within bounds.

As Tim Bajarin, an analyst at Creative Technologies who has attended an amazing 50 CES gatherings, writes: “The role technology will play in health monitoring and self-treatment is already in great demand for eldercare and to anyone that needs to keep track of their health. It will be one of the more important growth markets in tech in the next 20 years.”

3. Hearing Aids

With regulations around hearing devices changing (you no longer have to go to an audiologist to purchase hearing aids), there has been an explosion of innovation in the space. We therefore wanted to bring you a pair of options that look promising.

Phonak, owned by Swiss company Sonova, has opted to serve the high-end market by taking molds of your ears to create custom hearing aids. Check out their Virto Black model if you want a hearing solution that is top of the line, but expect to pay handsomely for the privilege.

Nuheara IQbuds2 Max claim to excel at active noise cancellation for a reasonable $359. Try them for listening to music or podcasts, and to cancel out background noise when you are out and about. These buds are programmable for optimal use in different situations. And they have the cool factor as well: who wouldn’t rather wear Bluetooth ear buds than hearing aids?

We all know that our world can change in a heartbeat. It is comforting to know that tech solutions are never far behind. 

Click below for the other articles in the August 2020 Senior Spirit


Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors