HelloAgain Challenge: Improve Mobile Tech for Seniors and Caregivers

Mobile technology is widely seen as the future, connecting us not just to each other but to the world through the web. Some would dispute the “future” label, saying mobile is already here. That may be true for some applications, but we’ve hardly scratched the surface when it comes to mobile meeting the needs of seniors and their family caregivers.

Regular visitors to Senior Care Corner know technology is a major focus area of ours because we know what it can mean to the quality of care and life of seniors, especially those aging in place, both directly and by enabling those family members who provide care.

We mention frequently that one of the hurdles in the development of the technology we need is that those on the forefront simply don’t understand the needs of aging adults and their caregivers. While we see that starting to change, influence is still strongly weighted toward the younger end of the spectrum.

Mobile has the greatest penetration of all digital technologies; after all, it seems almost everyone is willing to carry and use a phone. Smartphone technology simply doesn’t seem to be clicking with large numbers of seniors, which means much of the potential benefit may be bypassing them.

We mentioned before the example of one of our senior loved ones, who upgraded to an iPhone because he needed a new phone and that’s what his provider offered when he went to the store. It probably didn’t hurt that he heard us rave about – and saw us using (maybe a little too much) our own. To him it is not much more than a phone, though, as he shares in some of the many issues that keep seniors from benefiting from the full potential of their mobile devices.

Enter the HelloAgain Challenge, a fantastic idea from Blindsight and emporia Telecom, USA to encourage ideas to make mobile more useful to seniors, their families and other caregivers. The Challenge bills itself as a co-opetition rather than a competition, not just allowing but encouraging participants to view and build on the ideas submitted by others.

The HelloAgain Challenge is specifically targeting ideas from older adults and their caregivers, those whose voices are not traditionally part of the technology development process but have the closest perspective of their own needs. Ideas are being sought from anyone and everyone.

How Would YOU Improve Mobile for Seniors & Caregivers?

How many of us have had one of those “I wish my device could ___” moments – an idea that would give our mobile device a key piece of functionality that we just know would help us help our senior loved ones? You might just find one of those moments being selecting as a winner.

Submissions are encouraged that address anything relating to the application of mobile technology to increase the independence or quality of life of seniors. Six categories have been established for participants.

  1. Virtual Companionship
  2. Caring from afar
  3. Connecting Friends and Family
  4. Health Management
  5. Emergency Aid
  6. Other

The Challenge is seeking our ideas, in the form of an identified problem and a conceptual solution, not developed products. It’s tailor made for those of us who know what’s needed but aren’t technical experts who can make it happen.

What You Can Win

The Challenge will have winners, selected by a judging panel assembled by the sponsors from companies such as AARP, UC CITRIS, GreatCall and Verizon Wireless. Three winning ideas will be chosen, with those presenting the ideas offered a choice of $1000 cash or an all expenses paid trip to New Orleans for the AARP Life@50+ Expo in September 2012.

A chance to make a positive difference in the lives of millions of seniors and their family caregivers AND a prize?

We can’t wait to see all the ideas and to see some of them put to work so the potential benefits of mobile technology reach seniors and caregivers!