An article in The Wall Street Journal by AgeLab Director Joseph Coughlin and Luke Yoquinto discusses the changing in perspective of how products should be designed, built, and marketed for older adults:
Technologies aimed at keeping older people healthy have long combined cumbersome form and infantilizing function. Way back in 1947, you could strap on a wearable heart-rate detector and go for a stroll. (At 85 pounds, it was “wearable” only on your back, and not for long.) In 1975 the American International Telephone Corp. began selling necklace-style alert systems that could summon an ambulance in an emergency. By 2009 you could buy a wearable device to detect if you’d taken a fall in your home.
Only today is the elder-tech industry ﬁnally going mainstream. In September, Apple announced its latest Watch, which includes all the aforementioned capabilities in a small, sleek package. This is merely the latest in a series of developments suggesting a tipping point: Health technology for older people is now designed not merely to be endured, but embraced.