Huge curved TV pictures may have gathered crowds of gawkers at the 2014 International CES, but it was wearables, connected home technology and the internet of everything that stole the show.
We at Senior Care Corner see that as great news for seniors who want to age in place as long as possible — and for their family caregivers.
Even better, this isn’t innovation targeting just the senior market but technology for all ages. We think that’s better because it will mean a greater variety of products so there will be options for everyone and availability from a broad range of retailers so it’s more accessible.
Oh, it should mean lower prices too.
Wearable Devices for Fitness & Health
It seems like every session at CES this year – and most of the exhibits – addressed wearable devices in some way.
What are wearable devices, also called wearables? They are digital devices worn on the body in some way that provide data or other feedback based on their use.
So far we have seen or heard about many different types of these digital devices. Wearables might be strapped to the wrist like watches (or actually watches), worn as jewelry around the neck or on clothing, clipped on eyeglasses (or even being the glasses themselves) and even more. There probably isn’t an article of clothing that isn’t at least being tested with integrated digital sensors.
You can tell wearables are advanced in development when there are jokes about socks or underwear being plugged-in for charging like a smartphone — and the joke isn’t about them being plugged-in!
What Wearables Mean for Seniors
While most wearables today are made for and purchased by those who exercise a lot, there is real application for seniors and much more to come.
Many current fitness wearables already track heart rate, activity levels and quality of sleep, three areas just as important – if not more so – for seniors than for those who are younger. Other wearable devices monitor blood pressure, monitor blood sugar level, send out alerts when the wearer has fallen and more. Many more functions are on the way.
For our senior loved ones, the wearable devices of today are tangible evidence of a future when healthcare providers (and others designated by the seniors) will be able to access information about the seniors’ well-being remotely. That means doctors, senior care and other providers can be more on top of health – catching potential issues sooner – with the patients staying comfortably at home.
For family caregivers and other loved ones of seniors, it means peace of mind that comes from knowing that older family member living on her or his own at home is connected to care providers and help isn’t far away should there be a problem.
Connected Senior Homes of the Future
What, you didn’t know your home isn’t already connected? What we’re talking about here is different devices connected to us, maybe connected to the web and even to each other.
Why, you may be asking, do we want this?
The future connected home promises convenience and enjoyment to those of all ages, as well as greater security — not to mention bringing together the wearables and other monitoring devices that will mean so much to health.
Sure, it might not mean a lot to many of us to have the convenience of a controllable thermostat. After all, we can get up and walk over to change it, right. What about…
- An older adult for whom getting out of the chair is a painful effort but the temperature in the sitting room is feeling a little cold
- Family caregiver of a senior concerned whether she has left the thermostat at too cold a level for her health or if he remembered to take the thermostat off the “away” setting after returning from a visit.
Now that “needless convenience” item has become very important to the well-being of a senior who wants to live independently.
Apply that same concept to the kitchen stove, front door lock, household lighting and many other areas and we have a connected home — a home better suited to the senior for and about whom we care.
Connected Homes That Adjust TO Us
We heard a great deal and saw MANY exhibits of connected devices and even home systems that are available for sale today. At the same time, we heard many experts – and even the same companies exhibiting current systems – talk about how the connected home is still in its early stages.
We expect that within the next several years we will see connected home systems that are as easy to set up and use as today’s computers and tablets, enabling us to choose devices of different brands and seeing them seamlessly communicate with each other and us.
Based on what we heard at CES, we expect that many of today’s seniors will some day be able to live in homes that respond to their needs without the senior adjusting a control or interacting with a smartphone app. Really!
Internet of Things?
You’re not alone if “Internet of Things” not only means nothing to you but sounds strange. What sort of things does that mean — and why is it important to us are both fair questions.
Think about all the computers, smartphones, tablets, gaming devices and so much more that already are connected to the internet in some way. Imagine having to keep up with all of those and process the data they put on and read from the Internet. Sounds like a lot already, doesn’t it.
Add to the current devices all the sensors in the wearables, connected home appliances and devices, and so much more technology innovation will offer us in the future and we are talking many billions (yes, that’s a “b”) of different “things” whose data must be tracked, stored and accessible.
The good news is that the problems posed by the massive demands on the internet are being anticipated and the ability to handle it all is being developed. That means the web on which we count to tie us to everything and everything to us should be capable of keeping up as “everything” grows larger.
We wrote in an earlier post that CES 2014 was offering hints of innovation that would benefit seniors and their ability to live longer in the homes of their choice, in better health and with greater comfort.
Now that we’ve heard and seen it, we can tell you the hints are shouts and the future benefits should be real.
We’ll discuss some of the products and other innovations about which we learned in more detail in the future — and there is much we are excited to share with you!