Richard Caro: profile

Background: 

Dr. Richard G. Caro has over 30 years of experience at the intersection of technology and business — as startup CEO; startup CTO; scientist / inventor; angel investor; and advisor to emerging growth companies in fields such as medical devices; telecom; digital health; and photonics.

Dr. Caro is Co-founder of Tech-enhanced Life, PBC — a public benefit corporation exploring the intersection of aging and technology, with the mission of improving the quality of older adults and their families. He is also CEO of TangibleFuture, Inc., an interventional management consultancy which he founded in 2004 to help business leaders and entrepreneurs turn technological innovation into profitable businesses faster, and with less consumption of capital, than they would otherwise do. Richard has been responsible for the development of a number of successful products, and has 24 issued patents. In addition to his work with TangibleFuture and Tech-enhanced Life, he is an active angel investor.

Prior roles include CEO (founder) of Vital Insite, a venture-backed, medical device start-up developing noninvasive monitoring products; Engineering Program Manager at Coherent, one of the world's largest laser manufacturers; and CTO (employee #5) of Summit Technology, a pioneer in the laser refractive surgery (LASIK) business. Before entering industry, he was a member of the research staff at Stanford University. Immediately prior to founding TangibleFuture, Richard was Managing Director at RHK, a provider of advisory services to the communications industry, where he led consulting engagements with multinational businesses such as Intel, and Carl Zeiss; research institutions such as Battelle,and Sarnoff Corporation; and a variety of emerging startup companies.

Dr. Caro has particular expertise in the process of transforming technical innovation into profitable businesses. He has been a frequent mentor in business plan competitions at UC Berkeley, University of San Francisco, and the Cleantech Open; was a member of the “Entrepreneur in Readiness” program at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory from 2008 to 2012; and in 2013 & 2015 was a mentor in Steve Blank’s course at UCSF: Lean Launchpad for Life Sciences & Healthcare. In 2017 he was the industry expert on a startup team that was selected for, and graduated from, the NIH I-Corps program.

Born and raised in Australia, Richard received a B.Sc. (Hons.) degree from Melbourne University, Australia (1977), and a D.Phil. in experimental physics from Oxford University (1982) — where he was a Rhodes Scholar. In 1982 he was awarded an IBM post-doctoral fellowship to work at Stanford University, and moved to the USA where he has lived ever since. 

My Articles & Research on Tech-enhanced Life

Designing for Older Adults: Interview with Dr Jeff Johnson

In this interview with Dr. Jeff Johnson — who with Dr. Kate Finn literally "wrote the book" on designing for older adults — Jeff discusses with Richard Caro a variety of topics relating to designing better products for older adults.

 

 

Can Alexa Help Fight Isolation and Loneliness?

Perhaps it seems counterintuitive that an artificial intelligence(AI) might help combat isolation and loneliness. But as our Longevity Explorers evaluate the latest version of Alexa, paired with the Amazon Echo Show, which has an excellent video call capability, we are starting to see great potential for these products to do just that.

And while there are a variety of initiatives evaluating the potential of interactions between older adults and Alexa (Amazon's artifical intelligence) as a way to reduce loneliness, we think the communication capabilities of the Echo Show may make possible deeper human to human interactions (with friends and family for example) as well.

 

 

Technology & the Future of Aging

This is a live recording (slides and audio) of a talk given by Richard Caro entitled "The Future of Aging, & the Intersection of Aging & Technology". This talk was given in March 2019, at the Commonwealth Club, San Francisco.

 

 

What They Want vs What You Think They Need

I've said it before. Most of the products for older adults that we see are frankly not very good. This article is about two especially common pitfalls. I think of them as the "eat your broccoli" error, and the "I know how to market to 40 year olds" issue.

 

 

Which Customer Interaction, When?

When the conversation turns to interacting with customers before a product is "finished", most product developers I've talked to are enthusiastic. But they have very different opinions about when to interact with customers, how to interact with them, and for what purpose. I believe there is a way of thinking that helps resolve these questions, depending on the details of the company, and the stage of product development they are at. This article is to share it.

 

 

Products for Seniors: Could Do Better

After several years of product evaluations and unmet need explorations with groups of older adults, this is my most striking take-away. "While there is no shortage of problems for which older adults would like solutions, the vast majority of products we have looked at are either hard for elderly people to use, or do poorly the "job" our older adult demographic wants to get done". This article is about why (in my opinion) this is the case, and about errors to avoid. 

 

 

Longevity Explorers Roll up their Sleeves

In our first 24 months, our 5 circles of older adults (Longevity Explorers) had more than 100 face-to-face circle meetings at which together we explored unmet needs related to growing older; tried out, critiqued and compared various interesting products; and engaged in brainstorming and ideation for new and better products to help improve the quality of life as we age. We are quite excited about the results of our explorations, and this article is to share some of them.

 

 

Caring for & Dealing with Elderly Parents: The Books

In a previous article I did a little research to find the 10 "best selling" books on the topic of Aging Parents (on Amazon). I have now waded through them all, and in this article I summarize my impressions of the different books, in the hope that you can leverage my work so you need only focus on the ones that seem most useful for you.

 

 

Ideas for Apps for Seniors

At a conference organized by San Francisco's Institute on Aging, I ran an interactive "exploration", in which we asked attendees to vote on "Senior Apps they Like", or to submit ideas they have for "There should be an App for that". We got quite a few interesting ideas, and this article reports the results of the session.

 

 

Inventor Road Trip

Earlier this month we invited the inventor of a new type of walker to come along to one of the Longevity Collective circle meetings and show the older adults members of our circle the prototype of her invention and get their feedback. It was pretty interesting. This article is about the experience.

 

 

Best Books on Aging Parents

Over the last 18 months I have talked with literally hundreds of people who have realized they now have an extra "job" that they were not expecting: engaging one way or another in looking out for an aging parent. Many of them wanted a "guide" to Caring for Aging Parents, and asked for recommendations. Sure enough, there are a number of books on aging parents on Amazon. I decided I wanted to find the most popular, and then read them and see whether I could identify a handful of them to recommend next time someone asks for a Guide to Aging Parents. This article is the first installment in my journey and focuses on which are the top selling books in this category (presumably the ones others have found most relevant).

 

 

Intersection of aging and co-creation

Last month I gave a talk on co-creation and the future of aging at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. You can view the entire talk below.

 

 

How to articulate a problem that needs solving, and which seniors have

At our last Meetup we spent a lot of time talking about how to articulate a "problem" in a useful way that can lead to solutions and effective brainstorming. We also tested out the process by having participants stand up and discuss the "problem" they care about with the circle. This article is a reference to remind everyone how to articulate a "problem".

 

 

Aging in Place Meetup selects topics to work on.

On Wed March 19 we held the third meeting of the Aging in Place Technologies Meetup group. The goal of the group is to co-create the future of aging.

At our prior meeting the group identified 16 broad topic areas that sounded valuable and interesting to at least some of the members. Last week we agreed on the criteria for winnowing this down, and then voted to select a handful of topics to work on going forward. In addition, we did some rather thought provoking brainstroming about some specific "problems", and worked together on a common approach to articulating problems. A summary of the meeting follows.

 

 

What do seniors worry about?

Our mission is to find ways to improve the quality of life of people as they age, and help their families and loved ones worry about them less. We felt the right place to start was getting a better understanding of what bothers seniors about aging, and what they worry about. This article shares some of what we have learned thus far from our interviews.

 

 

First small steps to co-creating the future of aging

Last night we held the second meeting of the Meetup group: "Aging in Place technologies: collaboratively co-creating the future of aging". We wanted to attract people looking to roll up their sleeves and collaborate and actually work together on solving the challenges of aging, and that's exactly who came along. It was quite exciting.

 

 

Financial elder abuse: media and seniors have different perceptions

Financial abuse of seniors is on the rise. New companies are springing up to try and address the issue. But there may be some education required as it seems as though seniors and their families are not yet too worried about this issue.

 

 

Our aging world as a graphic

Food for thought. What will life be like when a third of the population in a country is over 60? We definitely need ways for "80 to become the new 60".

 

 

Could tech really take 20 years off your age?

My favorite question when I meet someone with an idea for a new venture is: “what problem are we trying to solve?". Here is one that is really worthwhile: Delaying functional decline as we age!

 

 

Aging "gray tsunami": challenge or opportunity

The world's growing elderly population is starting to get a lot of attention. As usual, there are several ways to look at this looming gray tsunami. The demographics are typically framed as "a challenge". I prefer to think of this as an opportunity.