AARP Innovation Labs takes a holistic approach to elder tech at CES
When young (or youngish) people think of elder tech, they may picture mostly clinical solutions — telemedicine platforms, for instance. Growing older, however, doesn’t just have a physical component. Isolation, for example, is a serious issue for elderly people, especially during the pandemic. And older people still have to manage their day-to-day routines and finances, not just plan estates and wills.
AARP Innovation Labs, the incubator program, highlights the many facets of aging in its CES virtual presentation, with a roster of startups that were divided into five groups: community, clinic, wellness, financial services and housing.
The program included fintech startups because of the pandemic’s economic impact, focusing on three companies that “are helping aging populations better manage finances and budgets, and effectively plan for the future.” Originally created to teach kids and teenagers financial literacy, Goalsetter is expanding its reach to more people with savings and investment management tools. Genivity creates customized financial projections based on users’ health and lifestyle habits, medical conditions and retirement goals, showing them how many years they might need to work before retiring and and what point they may need extended care. Trust & Will, meanwhile, makes it easy for families to create guardianship plans, wills and trusts.
Isolation was a serious problem for older adults even before COVID-19 and the pandemic has made loneliness worse. AARP Innovation addresses that problem with its selection of "community" startups. While many people already rely on other video chat apps, Kinoo wants to tailor the experience for families with elderly relatives living away from them. Its IoT toys for kids let them play games and do projects with their grandparents and other family members through Kinoo’s app.
A tabletop console gaming system, Gameboard, also lets family members enjoy fun time, instead of just chat time, with one another. It hosts hundreds of games, including role-playing games. Beeyonder is a marketplace for live virtual expert-led tours around the world, and can help alleviate the boredom of staying at home while the pandemic drags on.
Many of the startups in AARP’s incubator focus on aging in place, or helping older people stay in their homes instead of moving into a care facility. Its “Housing” section included three companies focused on personal mobility. Camino Robotics is creating “e-rollators,” or smart walkers with features that help people walk over slopes and uneven surfaces, brake automatically when going downhill and fold into “compact mode” for navigating tight spaces. Braze Mobility says it can turn any wheelchair into a smart wheelchair with patent-pending blind spot sensors that warn about obstacles through lights, sounds and vibrations. Meanwhile, De Oro Devices’ NexStride, created for people with Parkinson’s, is a small device that can be attached to canes and walkers and uses audio and visual cues to help users overcome freezing episodes and go on longer walks.
Meanwhile, Tellus is a startup that helps people live on their own with small wall-mounted sensors that can track biometric data, including heart rate, breathing, sleep and falls, from up to five meters away, and sends alerts to caregivers and family members through an app.
In its wellness category, AARP Innovation presented three startups focused on overall health and well-being. These included Zibrio, which was also part of AARP’s CES lineup last year. Zibrio is a scale that not only measures weight, but also gauges a person’s balance and fall risk. The company says Zibrio’s balance scale can predict if you are at risk of falling within the next 12 months, and its app then gives personalized care recommendations. While many people track their nutrition and exercise with apps like MyFitnessPal or Noom, Mighty Health was developed specifically for people over 50 years old. It connects users with a health coach and features nutrition and workout plans created for older adults.
Mental well-being is also incredibly important. Ompractice was started to help people who “experience geographic, economic and inclusivity barriers” get access to health, wellness and mindfulness features by partnering with fitness studios and working with large organizations, including health systems, to make their services accessible to users.
Of course, improving healthcare and the delivery of health services for older adults is extremely important, especially in the United States with its fragmented healthcare system. Included under AARP Innovation’s “clinic” section, Folia Health is a health “individual operating system” that lets patients answer multiple choice questions each day, which are then reviewed by their providers to help with diagnostic and care plans. It can be used to manage several conditions and communicate with multiple care providers. Telemedicine startup Tembo, on the other hand, partners with senior care communities, enabling them to provide remote medical services to their residents or clients. Embleema was created to make pharmaceutical studies easier by making the evidence generation and regulatory review processes faster.
For individuals, the clinic section included two startups. MindMics are smart earbuds that analyze biometrics, including heartrate, and send them to an app. JoyLux specifically addresses menopause with a roster of products, including devices for pelvic floor exercises, lubricants, supplements and cooling pads.