The rush to develop caregiving products for boomers
Plastic bands that restrict movement and harnesses that make the body hunch over painfully may sound like just another late Saturday night for some, but they're just a few of the tools researchers are using to get a glimpse of what the aging of the baby boom generation might look like.
To see what the future might feel like, MIT’s Age Lab, a research center designed to develop technologies and services geared to today’s aging population, created a high tech suit that’s designed to inhibit movement and sensation to better understand the physical challenges associated with aging.
Dubbed AGNES, an acronym for Age Gain Now Empathy System, the suit is worn by product developers and marketing folks looking to feel what it might be like to be a lot older and, in many instances, well heeled.
It's all about Age Lab researchers calls “the longevity paradox” — the idea that, while people in many developed countries now live several decades longer than they once did, relatively few industries are really dedicated to helping people make those extra decades healthy and productive.
Increasingly, companies come to the lab to better understand their target audience or to have their products, policies and services studied. It's only through this type of empathy, MIT says, that designers can really create better products and services.
As boomers age, for instance, many predict that there will be a shortage of healthcare professionals to tend to their needs, which means that more of the burden will fall on the household. That's why companies like GE are outfitting houses with hallway sensors to record walking speed.
Other monitors track every time someone enters or leaves the house, while others are attached to the bed to check heart rate and other vital signs.
Whether it's you or your parents, have you met up with companies who understand and properly serve aging boomers? What seems to be different?
By Gordon Powers, MSN Money