Change is nothing new. It’s always happened.
Technology has driven change since the Age of Enlightenment but today it’s the pace, scale and complexity of innovative new technologies and processes that is accelerating changes all around us.
Advances in health science have seen significant developments in the fight against diseases like HIV which only 20 years ago were reaching an epidemic proportions. Today those living with HIV, and on a course of treatment, can expect to live a full and normal life, while rates of detection and survival are significantly improved for most Cancers.
Challenges of living longer
The positive news of increased survival rates mean an exponential rise in people living with long-term, chronic conditions across all age groups - and this comes with cost and care challenges. For all the enhancements in the screening, prevention and treatment of illness, disease and even ageing, technology has until now been less responsive to the needs of people living with frailties and impairments.
Now AgeTech has an opportunity to support people to live normal lives and reduce social exclusion and stigma. The focus of campaigns run by the Stroke Association such as “Same You” seek to highlight the life beyond a Stroke or illness - AgeTech needs to support these individuals living a normal life and not just seek to change existing behaviours.
The new era of AgeTech
AgeTech needs to challenge the status quo of at-home and for those in residential care, driving a rethink of how IoT can transform home-based technologies that aren’t just functional but also inclusive and importantly desirable. The new era of AgeTech will demand technology that is intuitive, aesthetically pleasing, integrated and connected. We need to redesign our whole concept of the home environment, starting with the knowledge that ageing, frailty and living with illness is an intrinsic part of modern life, to which we are all susceptible.
AgeTech is already seeing innovation in areas including interactive wellness based gaming, voice activated virtual assistants, telehealth and telerehabilitation, robotic devices, virtual reality devices and sensors.
Path finder, a UK-based startup have developed a shoe that emits green light in front of Parkinson’s sufferers which early testing has showed can drastically improve walking and reduces falls and injuries.
Innovative user-centric design is re-envisaging every aspect of the house from electric plugs for arthritis sufferers that can be used with one finger, to sophisticated fall and proof of life sensors.
Sofa to sofa video calling
Kraydel’s video calling hub has won the backing of government ministers for the innovative way in which it has reinvented the traditional TV - the larger and highest quality screen of the house with the best sound for hard of hearing. The TV, as opposed to mobiles or tablets is a fixed device meaning no fatigue from handling while it provides a stable and direct line of eye contact - easier for call recipients to lip read. And unlike video calling apps like Skype or FaceTime, there’s no in-screen display box to distract users.
Our device effortlessly converts the TV (it does not have to be a Smart TV, needing only an HDMI port) into the main communication channel using a specially designed remote control, and incredibly intuitive user interface. The design allows for easy handling, with large buttons and an easy user navigation that can be operated by using elbow for people with Parkinson’s or trembles.
Building social connections
We believe that social connections are enriched by easy straightforward “sofa – sofa” conversations between family members and with Carers. The new age of AgeTech will tackle social exclusion head on - with the TV at the heart of the home we envisage a wave of applications where the senior can be connected to local service providers such as their bank, local council or utility companies with the click of the button.
And alongside tackling exclusion we can also connect seniors and those with frailties to communities, friends, family and support networks. We envisage a new ecosystem where support and wellbeing groups are available at the click of a button from the comfort of your sofa.
There are of course merits and limitations of each type of technology but now is the time to invest in AgeTech and deliver innovation that will transform the way millions of people currently live their lives. And in the process, we’ll be building the smarthomes of the future - ones designed with lifelong ageing at the core.