Targeting the Untapped Market of Wearables for Elder Care
By Rahmat Shoureshi
Today’s 20-something tech wizards might not worry about the challenges of old age. But they should.
Seniors represent a huge untapped market for tech companies. While just 13 percent of America’s population is 65 or older today, that slice will jump to 19 percent by 2030.
One area that holds particular promise? Wearables.
Such technology already supports healthier lifestyles. Over 20 percent of Americans use wearables. Ralph Lauren, Adidas, and other brands have developed smart wear to help people optimize their workouts.
Wearables that foster healthy and independent living will soon fill seniors’ wardrobes. With advances in nanotechnology, “smart clothes” that monitor seniors’ health and remind them to take their medications are on the way.
Analysts predict that medical applications will soon account for the largest share in the smart textile industry, reaching $843 million by 2021.
Previously, smart textiles weren’t so wearable. Indeed, their metallic fibers were bulky and unattractive. But new futuristic threads — called “smart yarn”— allow designers to embroider circuits into fabric, making wearables lightweight, comfortable, and low-cost.
Wearables empower patients to take control of their health and manage chronic illnesses.
Chronic disease represents 86 percent of U.S. health spending. Nine in 10 seniors have at least one chronic condition. Technology that helps seniors avoid com- plications from their conditions can yield tremendous savings by eliminating unnecessary hospital stays. Smart watches are already being used to alert patients to take medication. Soon, seniors with hypertension could use wrist-worn devices to track blood pressure.
Seniors with diabetes may soon benefit from intelligent footwear. New Zealand startup Footfalls and Heartbeats and the University of Nottingham are developing sensor-equipped “smart socks” that warn diabetics when they are at risk for foot ulcers.
T- shirts from Canada’s OMsignal, meanwhile, can keep track of wearers’ stress levels and send vital signs to doctors. The company believes its threadbased sensors will help prevent everything from heart failures to seizures.
For the 6 million seniors suffering from vision loss, mobility is often a nightmare. Sensors can change that. Designers are developing new sensors that emit ultrasound waves to detect objects that can be clipped to clothing or woven into vests. As the user approaches an obstacle, the sensor vibrates, growing in intensity and frequency the closer the obstacle gets.
Take Tactile Navigation Tools’ Eyeronman vest, which employs three different types of sensors to guide users. The vest’s sensors communicate with an electronic textile shirt, which vibrates in a particular spot to indicate impending obstacles and their locations. Perhaps most importantly, new technology can prevent life-changing injuries caused by falls.
Rahmat Shoureshi is provost and vice president for academic affairs at New York Institute of Technology.
By Kathryn Jean Lopez
CLEARWATER, FLORIDA — “Hillary Clinton is evil incarnate.” I remember where I was the first time I heard someone say this. I also remember the feelings of resistance, repulsion and sadness that were my reaction. She’s not. Look, I worked at the conservative National Review during Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial. That the Clintons aren’t models of moral leadership is not something you have to convince me of. Furthermore, as I’ve written throughout this campaign, Hillary Clinton’s stubborn extremism on abortion is somewhat astonishing. Yes, she’s a liberal ideologue who has been advocating these things internationally for decades. But now more than ever, America needs a leader who would seek to unite us in ways that remind us of our inclination to generosity and our most valued freedoms. Polling shows that there are huge opportunities on many issues, including abortion, for this.
Instead, Clinton spent the first two questions of the last presidential debate doubling down on the gravest poison of our political existence.
I guess I’m experiencing a little more freedom this election, because I’m not voting for anyone on the ballot. I’m opting for the write-in option. I know there are people reading this who think that this is a reckless copout, but the time has long come to stop pretending that things are all right. Trump didn’t start the fire — he is not evil incarnate, either, for the record — but he may just provide a pivotal opportunity to say “Enough.”
Something I find myself thinking about in recent days is friendship, specifically friendships after Election Day.
What is it about this election that has put a strain on personal relationships? I don’t think either Trump or Clinton have the power to destroy friendships. But what is going on when people write off magazines they grew up with, sunder themselves from people who have long been a part of their working days and banish family members? What is behind some of the vitriol on social media?
I myself have been informed of all the babies’ deaths I will be responsible for because I’ve criticized Trump.
I’m not voting for him, and I don’t see that as a vote for Clinton, as many insist. We’re on our fourth decade of legal abortion. This is an unnecessary reality, not befitting of the generosity of our people and history. Polls indicate people know this, but we’re so overwhelmed by manipulative language, frustration and a lack of hope. And the anger of this election is not lifting us out of it.
I’ve been in Florida for the last week, studying St. Ignatius Loyola’s rules for discernment. Fr. Timothy Gallagher literally wrote the modern-day guidebook to them, “Discernment of the Spirits,” and as I walked to his morning class at the Cenacle of Our Lady of Divine Providence’s spiritual-direction school, I couldn’t help but notice a New York Times opinion column about Trump lacking discernment. But truly, it’s something we could all use a little more of.
Kathryn Jean Lopez is senior fellow at the National Review Institute, editor-at-large of National Review Online and founding director of Catholic Voices USA. She can be contacted at klopez@ nationalreview.com.