This Is a Huge Market – And We’ll All Be Part of It

Danielle Beurteaux

May is Older Americans Month, which aims to highlight the roles and issues of seniors. A recent report released by the Consumer Technology Association and the CTA Foundation, a tech nonprofit focused on seniors and the disabled and technology, found that the “active aging” market segment is growing. (According to the World Health Organization, active aging “is the process of optimizing opportunities for health, participation, and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age. It applies to both individuals and population groups.”)

The “CTA Market Report: Active Aging” says it’s a $24.4 billion market that encompasses both the aged and those who take care of them, and it’s expected to be $42.7 billion by 2020, mostly because of baby boomers. And they’re not going to age without technology.

Organizations around the country are stepping up to help seniors learn about technology and how to integrate tech into their lives. (Older adults are already online, but they don’t have a very high use of mobile devices.)

Startups are tapping into this need with products created specifically for older populations, both in application and by design, like making screens easy to read for those with vision problems. For example, the GrandPad is a tablet designed as a no-fuss, minimal maintenance device for seniors – it comes with insurance, month-to-month contracts, and is ready to go once unboxed.

The CTA report buckets senior tech into three categories.

  1. Safety and smart living: This is the technology that could help seniors maintain independence and age in their homes. Examples include smartwatches designed for seniors that are a stylish alternative to alert devices that are already on the market, but with more capabilities like medical alerts that can tell if the wearer has fallen down, thanks to the built-in accelerometer. Not only is the look of these watches unobtrusive – they look pretty like any other smartwatch on the market – but they offer more options and multiple uses, and thereby more control.
  1. Health device and remote care providers: With tech for tracking health and remote solutions, today’s seniors – and their caregivers – can follow their health signs 24/7, and treatment doesn’t always mean a visit to the doctor. For example, startup Nonnatech uses sensors placed around a living environment to enable real-time monitoring and predictive analysis to help seniors and their caregivers. The company’s founder says the product can help reduce emergency room visits, which leads to cost savings. There are also safety bracelets with GPS-tracking capabilities for seniors, like those with Alzheimer’s, who may wander.
  1. Wellness and fitness solution providers: We all know that staying physically active is intrinsic to good health, and startups are looking at everything from nutrition to activity tracking and monitoring. In yet another acknowledgement that style matters, activity tracker WiseWear recently partnered with fashion icon Iris Apfel to create a line of the bracelets for seniors that include distress alert capabilities. And startup Rendever Health has designed VR to entertain seniors who live in assisted-care environments. The company also plans on using the technology to measure aging and might collaborate with hospitals and care facilities to perform studies on the effects of aging.

Digital technology touches nearly every part of our lives today, and there’s no going back. Learn more about how that’s changed how we live, work, and play in Live Business: The Digitization of Everything.

Danielle Beurteaux

About Danielle Beurteaux

Danielle Beurteaux is a New York–based writer who covers business, technology, and philanthropy. Her work has appeared in The New York Times and on Popular Mechanics, CNN, and Institutional Investor's Alpha, among other outlets.