Aging in Place MeetUp - September 2016

from: Longevity Explorers | Aging in Place Technology

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Discussion Summary

"Smartphone Apps That Older Adults Might Actually Want"

It's hard to believe we've been hosting these meetups for almost two years and the group is still going strong! This month we again met at TechShop, Redwood City with pizza and drinks supplied by Walt of Voler Systems. We had about 25 people attend, about half were regular members.

Richard started off the meeting with a nice review of the Longevity Explorer circles. These groups of older adults discuss, dissect, suggest, and evaluate solutions to problems that occur as they - we - age. These discussions have been very productive and Tech Enhanced Life has piloted a few directed discussions at the request of companies who are active in this space. These have gone very well and we're now reaching out to more companies that might want to sponsor specific research with these excellent Explorers. You can read more about the services here.

We had several presentations in the "five minute show and tell" section. Some were...

Medication management products

A. Rich Friedland showed photos of a number of products in the "pill dispensing" marketplace. He arranged them from simple (a bottle) to the most complex (fully automated dispensers). It was interesting to see his take on the progression as they try to deliver more value:

  1. Pill bottle
  2. Single day tray compartment dispenser
  3. Multi-day / Intra-day tray compartment dispenser
  4. Compartment dispensers with alarms or some kind of reminder alert
  5. 4x7 grid of compartments with a tie-in to a smart phone, text message, etc.
  6. Automated dispenser (Phillips, TabSafe, etc) that is pre-loaded, but still requires a care giver to load and sort pills into these little dose cups. A lot of dependence on the care giver to get it right.
  7. An offshoot here is the PillPack that pre-sorts pills into dose units and seals each dose into a little package. The packages are labeled with time and date. This move dose sorting responsibility from the care giver to the pharmacy, but regimen changes invalidate all existing pill packs and the pills they contain have to be discarded.
  8. Fully automated dispensers allow one to dump whole bottles of pills in and the machinery keeps them separate and dispenses them correctly. (Dose, Hero, Livi, Lumma, Pill Drill, MedaCube). These are big, complex devices.

We didn't have much time left over for discussion. Thanks to Rich for the education.

Body hydration

B. Mike Graebner talked about the need for a simple way to measure body hydration. In a clinic they track fluid intake or do urinalysis. But what do we do for the person at home? Mike showed several beauty aids that claim to measure skin hydration in order to advise a person on the selection of creams and such. His question to the crowd was, "could we adapt the technology in one of these devices to estimate whole body hydration?" The group talked about an aspiration delivery device that measured water in exhaled breath. Someone thought Frog Design might have a kickstarter in this area. Scales that measure body capacitance might be an option. We thought there might be devices in the professional athletic market to do this. Mike is looking for people to collaborate with him on this project. Contact him if you're interested.

New App idea

C. Curtis is developing a product to make remote technical help easier. His concept is to have an easy way for an older adult to "share their iPad screen" with someone who is helping them over the phone. He talked about his idea a little bit and then turned to the group for ideas. Some mentioned the overall need for one "super" app that standardized the user interface across a number of typical tasks (text, photo, phone call, note, calendar, etc) and didn't change that UI over time. This way older adults could get used to the way something works and count on it to keep working that way. The GrandPad product was brought up. These devices need to work as easily as a TV remote control (is a TV remote control all that easy?). One fundamental issue is that devices are multi-modal and today's older adults have a hard time grasping that; dedicated devices to a particular task really help them. We talked about having a different UI for older adults that hides a lot of functionality in order to focus on what they use.

The Unconference

We formed a large circle to discuss smart phone and tablet apps that older adults might actually use. It's hard to reproduce all the rich discussion here. I'll just mention a few things that struck me.

  • Older adults will learn to use an app that delivers them some value. No one wants to "learn to Skype" but they will do what it takes to have a video chat with a grandchild.

  • Platforms offer accessibility features to make them easier to use, but finding and activating those features can be difficult. Why is it so hard to turn on the very things that make a device easier to use?

  • There should be a series of design patterns that follow cognitive decline so that an app can be made progressively easier to use.

  • We imagined a well designed app to store things one wants to remember. Better than iPhone Reminders. Maybe one the automatically created entries based on your movements... Spend an hour at the GPS location of a movie theater? Then prompt me to record what movie I just watched. A smart app could track my GPS and make a journal of what I've done for me to use to prompt my memory.

  • Many apps for cognitive assessment are very expensive. Why can't someone come up with a cheap way to do this very important assessment?

  • Installing new apps can be difficult. Searching, finding the app you need, remembering your app store password. Why isn't there a concierge service that recommends specific apps for older adults and has some simple way to install them on their device?

  • We talked a while about apps that "gameify" exercise.

  • SingFit plays music for people with substantial cognitive decline and people said it is very soothing.

  • Apps that don't exist
  1. Track my GPS, correlate with location and activity, make a journal.
  2. Integrate medical data into a journal and automatically share it with health care professionals
  3. Help in selecting non-traditional medicines
  4. Detect pain level through photos of a person's body and how it changes over time. Looking for lists and limps, and swaying, for example.
  5. Measure and alert to risky activities (e.g., "get off that ladder!")

We will meet again and hope to see everyone there.



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