Why Seniors Will Lead the Wearables Revolution
Wearable technology may call up an image of a young techie wearing Google Glass, but industry analysts say seniors will be the real trendsetters when it comes to wearables. Experts expect a growing base of wealthy seniors in the US and Canada to drive demand for devices that monitor blood sugar, manage chronic pain, track fitness, and more. Here’s what you can expect in a few years and what’s available now.
Wearables for senior health, communication, and safety
For many years, personal emergency response devices dominated the senior wearables market – think of the classic “panic button” worn on a lanyard. Recently, most PERS makers have added fall detection, mobile location and more wearable designs to their product lines.
As more tech and fitness companies get into the wearables business, seniors have more options than ever for staying safe and healthy on the go.
Seniors who are comfortable navigating apps and touchscreens can get a lot of use out of the Apple Watch, which features a built-in heart rate monitor. The watch’s changeable bands and customizable face make it look more like an accessory than a typical health tracker. Fitness and health apps for the Apple Watch include tools for medication schedules, sleep monitoring, and hydration reminders.
FitBit offers several wearable smartphone-connected fitness-tracking devices. Of these, active seniors will probably get the most benefit from FitBit’s top of the line Surge GPS watch. It’s designed for hardcore runners and bikers, but its large, easy-to-read watch face, heart-rate monitor, step counter, and sleep monitoring tools make it appealing to seniors, too, even if they’re not serious athletes.
We’ve blogged before about the WiseWear line of “smart” fashion jewelry. These stylish bracelets serve as fitness trackers and discreet panic buttons that send your GPS location to people on your contact list. Of all the wearables we’ve seen, these are the ones that look most like traditional accessories rather than tech-y gadgets.
Senior wearables coming soon
This wristband performs the functions of a wearable fall detector without the cost of monthly monitoring services. It sends smartphone-enabled alerts to family members and caregivers when it detects a fall or long periods of inactivity, a fever or hypothermia, and other issues. The first models are scheduled to ship in December.
Because the most radical makeover most walkers get is the addition of tennis balls to the front legs, the FriWalk is a huge step forward. The walker uses sensors, smartphone technology, navigation tools and social media to monitor users’ mobility, help them find their way around safely, and connect to other friends and neighbors nearby. Dozens of seniors in Europe are testing the FriWalk for the next two years. After that, makers hope to bring it to market.
Young UK entrepreneur Natalie Price is crowdfunding the cost of manufacturing her wireless wearable Proximity Button. It instantly alerts caregivers via Bluetooth when their charge wanders too far away. Price designed the device to be affordable and easy to use.
More senior wearables in the future
Industry-watchers say there are more wearable devices on the horizon that will help older adults “manage such ailments as diabetes and chronic pain.” As more Baby Boomers entire the prime age range for senior wearables, the demand for these types of devices – and the range of conditions they can monitor and treat – will continue to grow.