Steve Jobs once called the iPad ‘magical,’ and many 80-year-olds agree today

Apple aims to sell 5 million iPads to Japan’s elderly.jpg

Apple aims to sell 5 million iPads to Japan’s elderly

Apple Inc. has finally come up with a solution to stem bleeding iPad sales: sell millions of them to the elderly.

It plans to get up to five million iPads in the hands of Japanese senior citizens by 2020 through a partnership with IBM Corp. IBM, -0.86%  and Japan Post, the country’s largest employer. Apple AAPL, +1.01% CEO Tim Cook, at an event announcing the program on Thursday, said it would be expanded to “many other countries” as government’s grapple with rapidly-aging populations and rising health care costs.

The iPads will come equipped with a suite of apps developed by IBM catered specifically to the elderly, such as communication tools and health and medical apps.

“It is a prime demographic to be targeting,” said Roger Kay, a tech consultant and founder of Endpoint Technologies Co., particularly given the need for technological innovation in health among an oft ignored demographic in Silicon Valley.

The announcement comes a few days after Apple reported a 29% year-over-year decline in iPad sales to 12.6 million last quarter, capping off an eight-quarter streak of declines from 19.5 million in the second quarter of 2013, despite otherwise strong quarterly earnings.

While Apple has stumbled onto some cannibalization with its larger-screen iPhone 6 Plus and lighter MacBook, broader industry data also looks bleak, with shipments falling 5.9% year-over-year to 47.1 million in the first quarter, according to IDC.

Apple late last year started to carve out a new home for the iPad through a partnership with IBM aimed at getting iPads and enterprise apps into American corporations. They’ve built 22 apps so far for 11 industries, with the goal of getting above 100 apps by the end of the year.

The two are doubling down on their health-tech investments by targeting senior citizens.

“We completely underestimate the willingness and ability of elderly people to adopt meaningful technology,” said Rick Valencia, senior vice president of Qualcomm Life, in an email this week to MarketWatch. Qualcomm Life has long been making strides in connected health, particularly among older generations suffering from chronic disease.

Elderly people are getting more comfortable with the idea of using technology. An April 2014 Pew Research study found that 60% of seniors now go online—three-quarters of that reported signing on every day. About half said they had high-speed broadband Internet at home.

While Apple comes off as a hip company catered toward the young tech-savvy crowd, Gary Kaye, chief content officer at Tech50+, a tech-news website that caters toward a relatively tech-savvy 50-plus market, said Apple has been quietly targeting seniors for years with accessibility features.

In 2015, Cook called the iPad “incredibly intuitive” and pointed to Edythe Kirchmaier, a 107-year-old woman known as the oldest registered Facebook and iPad user. “We’d like more people like Edythe, who are living not just long, but well,” Cook said.

The tablet is the best option among Apple’s product for that type of rollout because it is “big enough to read, small enough to carry, and smart enough to connect to the Internet,” Kaye said.

Ross Rubin, an analyst at Reticle Research, said that while this alone might not be enough to reverse the negative growth of iPad sales, it’s a step in the right direction as the elderly increases as a percentage of global population. As health-tech advances, it provides a new level of mobility to elderly users, giving them a more direct line to emergency and health-care professionals.

Getty Images
Edyth Kirchmaier, 107, the oldest registered Facebook and iPad user

“Putting connected Apple devices in the hands of the elderly–many of whom want to communicate with their children and grandkids–may help spur demand for Apple devices and services,” said Rubin. “It exposes a group of users to digital technology that is too often neglected.”

Also see: Silicon Valley looks to disrupt elder care

Morningstar analyst Brian Colello said he views the IBM-Apple partnership as positive. Corporate deals like the one signed with Japan Post are not only a way into a new demographic, but are “stickier” than selling directly to consumers–meaning customers are less likely to jump to a rival like Android GOOGL, -0.25%

Of course, the decline in iPad sales should be “taken in context,” said Colello. While the iPhone 6 Plus has led to iPad cannibalization, the iPhone is a far more profitable product for Apple. The company sold a record 74.5 million iPhones in its first quarter and another 61.2 million last quarter.

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Shares of Apple fell for three straight days after the company’s blowout earnings report on Monday, but closed up 3% to $128.95 on Friday. They are up more than 50% over the last 12 months, making Apple the second-best performing stock on the Dow 30 behind Walt Disney Co. DIS, +0.15%

There are challenges with this demographic, particularly given the easy access to malicious parties on the Internet that may try to hack or scam the less tech-affluent group. It also requires a higher level of training. But if it can be done in such a way that seniors are as protected as possible, it could “go a long way” in reversing negative iPad growth, said Rob Enderle, tech analyst with Enderle Group.

“Give them something that works and provides them a benefit and they’re more committed to it than young techie people who have many more distractions in life,” said Qualcomm’s Valencia.

Inflammation’s Link to Alzheimer’s, Heart Disease and Cancer

Despite its heroic intentions to protect us against foreign invaders, inflammation also plays a role in many diseases, especially those experienced by older adults. Doctors and researchers around the world and across disease categories have caught on, and they’re working on ways to tame the beast of chronic inflammation. “More than 90 percent of all…

The post Inflammation’s Link to Alzheimer’s, Heart Disease and Cancer appeared first on Next Avenue.


Originally posted 2017-04-03 10:26:16.

How technology helping the elderly is turning into a big business opportunity

For over 10 years, an itch on his nose had been annoying Henry Evans. Many take such basic functions for granted, but not Evans. When he was 40, a stroke left him paralysed and mute. He can only move his head and partially move one finger.

Evans could finally scratch that itch last year, and what’s more, even shave, with the help of PR2, his personal robotic helper. The robot is now starting to help Evans around the house, organising and fetching things.

“The robot enables me to manipulate my physical environment. And any physical activity that I can control is huge,” Evans wrote in an email to ET, from a computer designed specially for him.

The ultimate goal of this project – led by Georgia Tech and PR2’s Silicon Valleybased maker Willow Garage — is to help the elderly live independently. Our world is, after all, ageing rapidly, primarily due to increased lifespans and declining fertility rates.

The worldwide elderly population is projected to grow to nearly 1 billion by 2030, which is when the US Census Bureau estimates that one in five Americans will be elderly. Senior citizens comprise 5% of India’s population, and the United Nations predicts that by 2050, about 536 million Indians will be aged 50 or over.

“We are at the brink of an ageing world, and we are not prepared,” says Brian Kennedy, CEO of the Buck Institute for Research on Ageing. “This mega crisis will start impacting us in the coming 20 years,” adds Dr Majd Alwan, executive director of the Center of Aging Services Technologies.

The multitude of problems that ageing brings covers almost every aspect of living: medical, health, social, economic, familial, care giving, and so on. Here are three ways in which technology is addressing these issues to help the elderly lead healthier and independent lives.


Drawing from the recent advancements in robotics, several products that can help the elderly lead dignified independent lives are lined up. Some robot helpers help with strenuous physical lifting, and can be operated with direct commands through a touch screen or voice-recognition systems.

They can help with taking a shower, fetching things and evacuation during a fire. Willing customers can use the flexible mechanics for exercises as well.

Sophisticated ones, like Yurina, are so flexible that they can even convert into electric wheel chairs. Some bionic products address specific shortcomings. Silicon Valley companies, like Ekso Bionics and Tibion, have non-invasive bionic products that help with movement of troubled body parts. Replete with pressure sensors and accelerometers, a fall cannot just be predicted but also prevented.

With strides in artificial intelligence (AI), robots can be used to navigate through the house too. Armed with highperformance cameras, and using the object-recognition technology, a different set of problems can be solved. Typical instances include finding lost spectacles, finding the right medication, help with recognising people’s faces, etc. Built-in softwares can help those suffering from memory loss, thus avoiding situations like forgetting to turn off appliances and gas stoves.

Some robots don’t solve mechanical problems. As their children get on with their own lives, the elderly also tend to be lonely. Keeping them mentally active is key to keeping them functional and healthy. Japanese communication robots like the chubby cute little blue-eyed humanoid Chapit are sound-sensitive.

They use voice-recognition to answer questions and even “speak” with the elderly, cracking occasional jokes, thereby helping alleviate some of their loneliness. Similarly, PARO, a cute robotic baby seal, therapeutically helps calm down dementia patients without heavy medication or sedation, and consequently without side-effects.

The future looks even brighter. Emerging technologies like self-driving robotic cars could free older drivers from the hazards of driving, the perils of public transport, and the burdens of unpredictable and expensive taxi services. Technological advances in surgery like robotic minimallyinvasive surgery and titanium bone implants, too, are cutting down on health complications, recovery times and generally improving the quality of life.


Then, there are biometric gadgets that help monitor an individual’s blood pressure, blood sugar, heart rate, cholesterol levels, and so on, at home itself. Traditionally, senior citizens have had to visit hospitals frequently just to get these aspects checked. As these myriad biometric gadgets get increasingly sophisticated, the stress and healthcare costs of frequent hospital visits are reduced.

The complex set of sensors available today are also useful in alarm-based products that notify the concerned in case of a fall, a drop in blood pressure and temperature. Positioning sensors are useful for locating loved ones that can lose their way home from an evening walk.

Such gadgets, along with mobile and email communications, enable telemedicine, wherein a great deal of clinical healthcare can be provided remotely. MobiSante, as an example, is a revolutionary smartphone-connected portable ultrasound device, which can operate at home and the results can, then, be shared remotely with doctors over a cellular network.

It helps in diagnostic purposes like the imaging of abdominal, pelvic, cardiac and peripheral vessels. Videos and images are automatically stored and doctors can track changes over a period of time, and recognise potential warning signs.

“We need to change the entire care-giving system with technology to become a lot more proactive, with an emphasis on prevention, early detection of health issues and alerting health professionals to intervene earlier,” says Dr Alwan, who is also a senior member of the IEEE technological standards body. “This would prevent these issues from becoming health crises that would result in hospitalisation, emergency care, and so on.”


Software powers much of a different class of solutions aimed towards the aged. While digital monitors like Withings take detailed blood pressure and heart rate readings, a software can save them on a


, thereby tracking significant changes over a time period.

Advice, answers and precautions that the doctor might have given, appear on the device. Moreover, the doctor can also access this accurate data and track the progress easily with health care softwares like Google HealthMicrosoft HealthVault and so on.

Software solutions effectively address mental health aspects. Games like Solitaire and mental fitness softwares like Lumosity and Dakim help avoid dementia and help the elderly stay mentally fit in a fun way.

Their scores and details of their play too can be tracked remotely by doctors to keep track of an elderly person’s intelligence faculties. Social networks like Ecumen Connects and cellphones like Jitterbug made specifically for the elderly help them stay socially active.

Still, technology can only do so much. Ageing is, after all, a systemic crisis and a societal problem. “Most of all, it’s going to take some serious leadership from people in political positions,” says Kennedy. Health insurance schemes, senior housing, economic policy, technology standards, etc need to figure prominently in government plans.

Meanwhile, Evans is optimistic that robotic helpers will, in the future, become as common in homes as microwave ovens are today. “We have just started and Mother Nature has a couple of a hundred million years’ lead on us! But give us some time and pretty soon the robots will get better and help the elderly stay functionally in their own homes much longer,” he concludes.

Gray Matters: Quiet volunteers

Originally based on theories by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, personality traits of introversion and extraversion can explain how we perceive the world and make decisions. Being introverted (shy, reticent or withdrawn) can sometimes hold us back from engaging with our community.

For some, the thought of volunteering for an organization with strangers in an environment that is unfamiliar might seem out of the question.