Thursday, August 13, 2009


(Click on the image for an enlargement.)

According to estimates released by the US Census Bureau, by 2050, one in six people in the world will be 65 and above. This is in large due to declining birth rates and medical advances that have extended lifespans.

Already websites offering products and services for seniors have mushroomed over the last decade to cater to the needs of ageing baby boomers. Click on the links below to view some of the elderly-friendly products already in the market.

Elder Gadgets

Avalon’s EZC Low Vision One Button Talking Watch.

This beautifully crafted timepiece features a loud female voice that tells time with the push of a button. The watch also features large, contrasting black numbers with bold hands, making it easier to tell time. Just the right gift for grandpa's birthday!

The Tek Pal™ from Hy-Tek

I would love to get this remote control for my mom. I can't think of a simpler design than this for older folks who are confused by too many buttons. The Tek Pal was designed specifically for people with vision problems who need a simple remote that's easy to see and even easier to program.

Here is a look at some of the products that are coming onstream.

Shoe-maker Aetrex Worldwide and a technology company GTX Corp. are teaming up to develop footwear with a built-in GPS device that could help track down "wandering" seniors suffering from Alzheimer's Disease (AD). Sure beats wearing a cow bell!

The Smart Personal Advisor

To give older consumers more real-time, personalized information on such everyday matters as the nutritional content of groceries, MIT's AgeLab has teamed with Procter & Gamble to develop the Smart Personal Advisor. This portable device can be attached to a shopping cart or incorporated into a cell phone or personal digital assistant. It then reads information contained in barcodes and analyzes how the item fits with a senior's personalized dietary needs. Similar technology is already in use in Germany and other countries, and could be adopted in the U.S. in the next five years. This is definitely one gadget I want on my wish list!

The prototype Aware Car is equipped with warning systems to help control speed and monitor oncoming traffic. It boasts night-vision capabilities, assists with difficult activities like left-hand turns, and tailors airbag deployment and steering wheel placement for smaller-sized drivers and those with osteoporosis. If I had a car like this, I would seriously consider dusting off my driving license and getting behind the wheel again.

Opportunity Knocks

Another product that uses GPS technology is this cell phone or PDA. Developed by Henry Kautz, University of Rochester Computer Science Dept.Kautz, with former colleague Don Patterson, the device helps keep the user from wandering off course during, say, a daily walk through the park. The user's typical commuting patterns is programmed into the system. An alert would be given if the user wanders off into the park in the evening.

The Center for Aging Services Technologies (CAST) is among the leading players in the race to develop and deploy technologies that can improve the aging experience in America. Established in 2003, CAST has become a national coalition of more than 400 technology companies, aging services organizations, research universities, and government representatives.
In Asia, similar initiatives are underway. One such example is Singapore's Silver Community Test-Bed Programme. The Singapore government offers generous grants to companies that develop products which cater to the elderly.

With all these products and many more coming into the market, seniors can certainly look forward to an active and independent lifestyle in their golden years.

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