Tech Trends Aim to Address Aging’s Grand Challenges

By Sarah Lai Stirland, Jan 9 2018





Senior living executives who attended the Aging2.0 alliance’s 2017 OPTIMIZE tech conference in San Francisco, Calif. in November caught a glimpse of the future—and Senior Living Executive can report that it looks more like “Star Trek” than “Blade runner.”

参加了11月在加利福尼亚州旧金山举行的Aging 2.0联盟2017年优化技术大会的老龄生活管理人员看到了未来的一瞥,他报告说,它看起来更像“星际迷航”而不是“刀锋战士”。

That means that we’re not likely to have humanoid butlers replacing senior living staff, but rather technologies that are going to be invisible and ambient. They will surround us and help us, but in an unobtrusive and easily accessible way—much like the ship’s voice-activated, faceless, ambient computer in “Star Trek.”


This was one of the main takeaways from the conference, which focused on good design and interaction, and how that design when combined with artificial intelligence (AI), automation, sensors, and other technologies, can help us with the many challenges that face us as we age. Another was how AI can improve the provision of care.


More generally, the ideas and solutions discussed at the conference centered on how emerging technologies and better operations can help the senior living sector address the eight “grand challenges” of aging, as identified by the founders of Aging2.0 through their work with the community. They include: Engagement and purpose; financial wellness; mobility and movement; enhancing daily living and lifestyles; improving the quality and efficiency of caregiving; care coordination; maintaining brain health; and improving the end-of-life experience.

更普遍的是,会议讨论的想法和解决方案集中在新兴技术和更好的运营如何帮助老年人解决老龄化的八大“挑战”,正如 Aging2.0 的创始人通过他们与社区合作。 它们包括:参与和目的; 财务健康; 流动性和运动; 增强日常生活和生活方式; 提高照料的质量和效率; 护理协调; 保持大脑健康; 并改善临终体验。


The exercise of creating categories of challenges “essentially gives the answer to the ‘why’ of: Why are we all doing this? Why is there this need for innovation in aging?” explained Stephen Johnston, Aging2.0’s co-founder in an interview.

“创造挑战类别的行为”本质上回答了“为什么”:为什么我们都这样做? 为什么老龄化需要创新?“Aging2.0联合创始人史蒂芬约翰斯顿在接受采访时解释道。

“There’s mini examples of where it could be done better for quality of life for individuals, inefficiencies and challenges in care operations, managing our aging populations, and the fact that it’s just not working for a lot of people, and for the health care budgets,” he said.


The entrepreneurs in this market face a growing demand for their services: Globally, the number of people over the age of 60 is projected to grow by more than half to 1.4 billion people by 2030 from 2015, according to the United Nations. The number of people over 80 is expected to triple globally to 434 million in 2050, from 2015.

联合国表示,这个市场中的企业家对其服务的需求越来越大:从全球范围来看,到2015年,60岁以上的人口数量到2015年预计将增长一倍多,达到14亿人。 预计到2050年,全球超过80人的人数将从2015年增至全球的3.34亿。

Generally, the entrepreneurs are designing technologies to help seniors more easily stay connected with the wider world, be constantly in touch with their families and caregivers, be intellectually stimulated and entertained, and stay physically capable and mobile, among other things.


“Good design is discreet,” said Yves Béhar, the Swiss designer who is world-renowned for his ability to incorporate emerging technologies with beautiful and whimsical, but practical, designs. The San Francisco-based designer set the tone for the conference with his opening keynote speech on the principles of good design in the age of AI, robots, and smart environments. “Discreet in the sense that it doesn’t take you out of the moment, out of your everyday life,” he told his audience. “This is unfortunately what technology has done to us in the past few years. This is my experience: I come home from work, and I have some automation, so I may dim the lights and put some music on. My children immediately think I’m texting, that I’m on my cell phone or social media. This is a clear issue that we have with technology and social media. It’s taking us away from the people who count the most in our lives.”

“良好的设计是谨慎的,”瑞士设计师Yves Béhar说,他以能够将新兴技术融入美丽而异想天开但实用的设计而闻名世界。 这位总部位于旧金山的设计师在会上发表了关于人工智能,机器人和智能环境时代良好设计原则的开幕主题演讲。 “谨慎的意义在于,它不会让你摆脱现实,摆脱日常生活,”他告诉听众。 “很遗憾,这些技术在过去几年中对我们做了什么。 这是我的经历:我下班回家,我有一些智能设备,所以我可以调暗灯光并播放一些音乐。 我的孩子们立即认为我在发短信,我正在使用手机或社交媒体。 这是我们在技术和社交媒体方面遇到的一个明确问题。 它将我们从我们生活中最重要的人身上带走。“

That is why he is increasingly trying to design products that avoid that trap. For instance, he worked with the Israeli social robotics firm Intuition Robotics to design ElliQ (See the photo at the begining), a social robot that doesn’t have a face, but instead is an internally-lit cream-colored cone equipped with a camera and microphones. It swivels around and jokes, converses with, and suggests activities for older adults. A tablet for displaying content accompanies the cone. For their part, Intuition Robotics’ co-founders Dor Skuler and Itai Mendelsohn wanted to create a product that could engage millions of socially isolated seniors around the world.

这就是为什么他越来越努力设计避免陷阱的产品。 例如,他曾与以色列社会机器人公司Intuition Robotics合作设计ElliQ (见本文开篇图),这是一款没有脸部的社交机器人,而是一款配有照相机和麦克风的内部照明奶油色锥体。 它回转,开玩笑,交谈,并建议老年人的活动。 用于显示内容的平板电脑伴随着锥体。 Intuition Robotics公司的共同创始人斯库勒和孟德尔孙希望创造一种产品,可以吸引全球数百万与社会隔离的老年人。

ElliQ can recognize its user, play games, schedule rides, make jokes, announce reminders of various kinds, and suggest activities it learns that its user engages in—such as Skyping with a family member, watching a TED talk, or even a walk. Unlike Alexa, who passively responds to commands, this robot with a female voice initiates engagement with its users. Like its U.S. competitor JIBO, it sits on a counter and is voice-activated. (JIBO started shipping early November 2017. ElliQ will ship sometime in 2018.)

ElliQ可以识别用户,玩游戏,安排游乐设施,开玩笑,宣布各种提醒,并建议用户参与其中的活动,例如与家人一起通话,观看TED演讲,甚至散步。 与被动地响应命令的Alexa不同,这个带有女性声音的机器人启动了与用户的交流。 就像它的美国竞争对手JIBO一样,它坐落在一个柜台上,并且是语音激活的。 (JIBO于2017年11月初开始发货.ElliQ将于2018年某个时候发货。)

The social robot creators believe that their creations can be more than simple devices that execute commands and entertain. They see them as potential coaches. Both Skuler and JIBO’s creator Cynthia Breazeal of MIT suggested that the robots could become coaches for seniors and encourage positive behaviors that could help them achieve their goals, like staying healthy, for example. Neither Skuler nor Breazeal suggested that the robots should replace human companions. Rather, they can augment seniors’ lives with joyful, fun interaction.

社交机器人创作者相信他们的创作不仅仅是执行命令和娱乐的简单设备。 他们认为他们是潜在的教练。 例如,斯库勒和JIBO的创始人麻省理工学院的布雷泽尔都表示,机器人可以成为老年人的教练,并鼓励积极的行为来帮助他们实现目标,例如保持健康。 斯库勒和布雷泽尔都没有提出机器人应该替代人类的同伴。 相反,他们可以通过快乐,有趣的互动来增加老年人的生活。

John Sanders, a resident of Front Porch’s Carlsbad By the Sea retirement community,demonstrated how even just having an Alexa-enabled Echo speaker in the home can make life for residents more social. Sanders told the Aging2.0 audience that one of the community’s centenarians has Alexa read her the Bible. Alexa has the capability of starting again where she last left off. The woman, Grace, is so enamored with the capability that she tells everyone she knows about it. The retirement community has also founded an Alexa Club, where seniors get together to discuss its capabilities.

Front Porch的Carlsbad By the Sea退休社区的居民约翰 桑德斯展示了如何在家中使用具有Alexa功能的Echo音箱可以让居民的生活更具社交性。 桑德斯告诉Aging2.0的观众,社区的百岁老人中有一位让Alexa为她读圣经。 Alexa具有记忆功能,能够从上次退出的地方重新开始。这位女士,格蕾丝,非常喜欢这项功能,她告诉她知道的每个人。 退休社区还建立了一个Alexa俱乐部,老年人聚在一起讨论其能力。

“It’s important that us old folks who don’t want to adopt technology don’t realize that this is technology because we’re so infatuated with what it does,” Sanders said.


AI isn’t just about sci-fi-sounding robots. Entrepreneurs are trying to use it to predict, prevent, and reduce the chances of falls—one of the biggest risks for seniors and a ma-jor issue for senior living providers. George Netscher, a doctoral student in computer vision on leave from the University of California, Berkeley, for example, started a new company called SafelyYou in 2016 that uses computer vision to analyze the risks associated with falls of seniors in memory care. The goal is to help senior living providers update their operations and minimize those risks in light of the information provided by the images. Carlton Senior Living is one of several providers in California that is currently beta testing the system with SafelyYou. SafelyYou has published results showing an 80 percent reduction in the fall rate, which they hope to validate at a larger scale over the next six months.

人工智能不只是关于科幻探测机器人。 企业家正试图用它来预测,预防和减少跌倒的机会 – 这是老年人面临的最大风险之一,也是老年人提供的重大问题之一。 例如,加州大学伯克利分校计算机视觉专业的博士生George Netscher于2016年创办了一家名为SafelyYou的新公司,该公司使用计算机视觉分析老年人在记忆护理中跌倒的风险。 目标是帮助老年人提供服务,根据图像提供的信息更新他们的业务并尽量减少这些风险。 Carlton Senior Living是加利福尼亚州的几家提供商之一,目前正在与SafelyYou进行beta系统测试。 SafelyYou发布的结果显示,跌倒率下降了80%,他们希望在未来六个月内以更大规模验证。

They’re also using it to better coordinate care. CarePredict, with offices in Florida and Silicon Valley, for example, is trying to use AI and sensors to collect information about the habits of seniors and detect patterns of change that might indicate precursors to a decline in health. The system is currently in use at five locations with 600 residents. Four more companies have signed up for the service this year, said Satish Movva, CarePredict’s founder and chief executive officer.

他们也在使用它来更好地协调护理。 例如,CarePredict在佛罗里达州和硅谷设有办事处,试图使用人工智能和传感器收集有关老年人习惯的信息,并检测可能表明健康状况下降前兆的变化模式。 该系统目前在五个地点使用,拥有600名居民。 CarePredict的创始人兼首席执行官Satish Movva表示,今年还有四家公司签署了该服务。


Other startups at the conference worth a mention: Mentia, a company that has created a tablet-based virtual reality world for those with moderate to severe dementia; Deva, an app featuring a digital world, was specifically designed for a tablet so that someone suffering from dementia could explore and engage with it alongside a caregiver; and Unforgettable.org, a UK startup that has created a shopping portal and community with products and resources for those with dementia and their families and caregivers. The company won Aging2.0’s best global startup business award for 2017.

值得一提的其他创业公司:Mentia,一家为中度至重度痴呆症患者创造了基于平板电脑的虚拟现实世界的公司; Deva是一款以数字世界为特色的应用程序,专为平板电脑设计,因此患有痴呆症的人可以与护理人员一起探索并与之互动; 以及英国初创公司Unforgettable.org,该公司为痴呆症患者及其家属和照顾者创建了一个购物门户和社区,提供产品和资源。 该公司赢得了2017年Aging2.0最佳全球创业企业奖。

OPTIMIZE didn’t just focus on technology. One big form of meaningful engagement is work. Former hotelier and Airbnb advisor Chip Conley ended the conference with this provocative idea: Experienced workers over the age of 50 can serve a new role in 21st century companies that are increasingly emulating Silicon Valley ones led by engineers and businesspeople in their twenties. Older workers can serve as both interns and mentors—roles he played at Airbnb. This idea is the seed of a new retreat he’s creating called the Modern Elder Academy in Baja California. It’s also the basis of a forthcoming book titled “The Making of a Modern Elder.”

OPTIMIZE不仅仅是专注于技术。有意义的接触的一种重要形式是工作。前酒店经营者和Airbnb顾问奇普•康利(Chip Conley)以这个颇具争议的想法结束了这次会议:50岁以上的有经验的员工可以在21世纪的公司中发挥新的作用,这些公司正越来越多地效仿当他们20多岁时的工程师和商人领导的硅谷公司。年纪较大的员工可以同时担任他在Airbnb上扮演的实习生和导师角色。这个想法是他在下加利福尼亚州建立的现代老年学院的种子。这也是即将出版的一本书的基础,书名为《现代长者的塑造》。

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