Touching the Future of Caregiving Technology – 2015 International CES

Touching the Future of Caregiving Technology – 2015 International CES

Rarely do we have this high a level of excitement while preparing to cover a conference and report back from family caregivers of seniors.

Especially when it comes to cutting-edge technology conferences.

We only report on conferences that have information we feel is of value to caregivers, of course, and always look forward to what we might learn and pass along that will help family members make the lives of senior loved ones safer, healthier and happier.

Technology conferences have, in our experience, been relevant for seniors and their family caregivers primarily for the promise of benefits from future devices and applications. Even then, the conversations have centered much more on what tech can mean to and do for younger target audiences.

The 2015 International CES has a different look and feel from other conferences, even prior years at CES.

We have always found a lot of value in covering CES, but primarily because we heard so much more about technology’s promise there. That and seen firsthand technologies packaged and marketed for younger audiences that we just knew could mean a lot to seniors and their families, often with only minor adjustments.

Looking at exhibitor descriptions by companies that will be attending, the people we’ll encounter, and the topics of the conference sessions has us very excited about what we will be able to report to you during and after the 2015 CES.

Seniors’ Needs No Longer Secondary

We’ve covered CES for several years and always found products by great companies that targeted seniors, many of which were in a special tech zone that was a companion to the day-long Silvers Summit conference. Beyond that, though, we didn’t find a lot of mention of older adults or the family caregivers who help them meet their needs and were often the ones who encouraged technology adoption, many times making the purchase for senior loved ones.

Not surprisingly, we found many other products being exhibited that seniors and their family caregivers would find valuable, though exhibit staff and materials were typically silent on the benefits their products offered for older consumers. This was true even for some of the largest companies exhibiting at CES.

So far, at least, it appears things will be very different at the 2015 CES. Emblematic of this is the rebranding of Silvers Summit to Lifelong Tech Summit. While the focus looks like it will still be on the wants and needs of older adults, the approach of the Summit is clearly multi-generational, reflecting in part that the “older” population itself consists of multiple generations.

More importantly, sessions across the conference tracks and exhibits from companies of all sizes address the needs of older adults and family caregivers. We expect to learn about many products and services — current and future — offered to consumers of all ages that will include in their lists of benefits what they will do for seniors.

That has us excited indeed!

Promising CES Conference Tracks

Just as the 2015 CES offers too many great conference tracks to hope to cover, the tracks that will have valuable information for family caregivers are too numerous to do justice here. These are what we expect to be tracks with the most highlights and thus most tempting to find their way on our schedules.

  • Connections Summit – Focusing once again on the opportunities and challenges presented by the Internet of Things and connected homes. We are particularly interested in sessions discussing which companies and industries will be providing the connected home products and, at least as important, which will be providing needed support to consumers.
  • Digital Disruption – A track with an interesting name and an even more interesting session discussing what we will do when our devices are as smart, or even smarter, that are we.
  • Digital Health Summit – Two primary focal areas of DIY health and the changing doctor/patient relationship that technology enables. There will be one discussion we find particularly interesting on technology taking us beyond our natural abilities, not just keeping us healthy but helping us to be even better than we thought possible.
  • Innovation Policy – In this track we found particularly interesting a session on privacy and the Internet of Things, which will focus on what tech companies and policy makers will need to do in order for consumers to trust tech devices and apps. With all the announcements of data breaches and privacy issues we face already, this should be insightful.
  • Kids & Family Tech – No, this track doesn’t cover seniors, but many family caregivers are raising children while caring for older loved ones, so anything that helps with either end of the spectrum makes caregivers’ lives better. One session we found to be of interest will discuss robotics and how children are naturals with robots and learn from them.
  • Lifelong Tech – We think their discussion of the challenges associated with longevity and potential solutions will be thought provoking.
  • Lifestyle Tech – This track offers potential insights for family caregivers, as there will be discussions of technology for those with disabilities and of natural interfaces, which hold the promise of making devices easier to interface by seniors who haven’t grown up with technology and/or have physical limitations that make the use of traditional interfaces difficult.
  • Robotics – A favorite tech topic of ours because of what robots can eventually mean to the ability of older adults to live independently even longer than today. Each time we take in a robotics session at CES we learn more and become more optimistic.
  • Sensors and MEMS (microelectromechanical sensors) – This very-techie sounding track has a session with a very intriguing title (well, to some of us at least), Waiting for the Holy Grail of Data, which will address the ability to understand health that will be gained by the 400,000 pieces of data each day per person that sensors will soon be able to provide.

These conference tracks and more will leave us some difficult decisions about what to cover and report back to you. We’d love to hear from you what topics you would find most valuable.

CES – Much More Than TVs, Video Games & Automotive Electronics

You may not realize it from much of the news coverage, but there are more than TVs, video games and all sort of car electronics on the International CES exhibition floor.

A WHOLE lot more.

Sure, seniors and family caregivers will enjoy TVs that are bigger and better, receive physical and mental workouts from the newest video gaming systems, and (one day) retain their independence in self-driving cars. CES has lots more technology to offer, though, to those who want to age in place independently at home.

There are more than 3,600 exhibitors signed up for the 2015 CES, making the exhibition floors – in multiple locations – even more overwhelming to cover than the conference. Some quick searches of the exhibitors list showed there are likely to be many of interest to even the basic safety, health and comfort needs of seniors.

  • Health & Biotech – 322 exhibitors
  • Smart Home Accessories – 619 exhibitors
  • Wearables – 527 exhibitors
  • Robotics – 137 exhibitors
  • Biometrics – 101 exhibitors
  • Personal Privacy – 68 exhibitors

All of this and even more is why we are more excited than ever before about covering the International CES.

Stay tuned in January and beyond, as we help you to touch the future of family caregiving through our reports on the 2015 CES!

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