Market Insight

Future technologies for old age go beyond the current scope of independent living

March 10, 2017

Roeen Roashan Roeen Roashan Senior Analyst, Healthcare Technology
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Old age certainly brings its challenges in terms of wellbeing and overall health status. It affects the basic independence of people, limiting individuals in a variety of ways, and potentially disabling them in performing certain everyday tasks – that is at least the current perception of reaching old age. Despite creating millions of jobs in eldercare, the rapidly growing portion of the global population aged 65+, is causing a massive disequilibrium in supply and demand, for instance in Japan, where the ratio of an eldercare worker to an elder citizen is 1:4. Japan’s solution to this problem has been deploying robots, the so-called carebots, to serve a number of purposes including mobility, medication management, exercise, conversation and more. Honda, Panasonic and other major corporations are vested in this market.

Beyond robots, conventional applications of technology that bring efficiencies to eldercare represent various independent living services, such as personal emergency response systems, or the use of motion sensors to continuously track the behavior of the elders to monitor both health and safety. In this arena cellular connectivity has emerged in recent years to accommodate the mobile lifestyle of baby boomers.

However, future technologies may bring “independence” for the elderly to entirely new levels, completely eliminating factors such as immobility, lack of physical strength and more. California-based Superflex is working on a computer-controlled textile or suit, equipped with sensors and refers to this, as intelligent wearable strength. The idea is to track movement and activity of the body, and in real-time provide computerized motor assist for motoric enhancement. Superflex is aiming at 2018 for commercial release, focusing on the US and Japanese markets due to demographics and consumer profile. This type of technology solves a fundamental challenge of old age and offers an attractive value proposition for the future of aging – a future where aging is accommodated through technology to avoid a deteriorating quality of life.

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Healthcare Technology
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