Age-tech might be the newest sector to focus on


“Age-tech” isn’t a niche sector, and aging populations aren’t limited to a few countries. According to a recent World Health Organization report, 1 in 6 people will be aged 60 years or over by 2030, while the number of people aged 80 years or over is expected to triple between 2020 and 2050 to 426 million.


“While this shift in distribution of a country’s population toward older ages—known as population aging—started in high-income countries (for example Japan 30% of the population is already over 60 years old), it is now low- and middle-income countries that are experiencing the greatest change,” the report said. “By 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population over 60 years will live in low- to middle-income countries.”


Tech giants have started tapping into the potential of this growing demographic, creating new services for their existing platforms and hardware. For example, earlier this month, Amazon officially launched Alexa Together, which turns Alexa devices into tools for caregivers with features that allow users to call out for help, an emergency helpline, fall detection, a remote assist option to help manage device settings and an activity feed so family members can see if someone has been less active than usual. Google, meanwhile, started piloting a simplified Nest Hub Max interface last year at retirement homes in an effort to help residents feel less isolated during lockdowns.


One of the most interesting products was Nobi’s smart lamp, an unobtrusive ceiling lamp that alerts caregivers when a fall or irregular movements are detected and automatically illuminates the floor when someone stands up to walk.


There were also several age-tech presentations, including one by AARP Innovation Lab, the nonprofit’s startup accelerator program, which presented nine companies. Many focused on helping elderly people “age in place,” or stay in their homes instead of moving into nursing facilities. These include Wheel Pad, whose accessible, modular work and home spaces fit into existing structures and sites; Zibrio, a scale that can be used at-home to predict if users are at a risk for fall; and FallCall Solutions, that develops Apple Watch apps and wearables, including jewelry, to help family members and other caregivers check in on users.


Homage, operational in Singapore and Malaysia, plans to expand into five more countries over the next two years. To assess caregivers and help match them with patients, it builds a profile of each provider and also works with nurses to evaluate how they are able to perform essential tasks like manual transfer techniques. All that data is used by its matching engine, which makes the process of finding caregivers faster for families and patients.


Meanwhile in the United Kingdom, Birdie is building software tools to support care providers, including ones that reduce administrative costs and enable real-time carer check-ins and medication-related notifications. The startup’s goal is to offer more personalized and preventative care so adults can live in their homes for longer as they age.


Papa, an on-demand senior assistance and companionship platform, shows that addressing loneliness among the elderly can translate into a promising business model. The Miami-based startup, which currently operates in 27 states, announced last month that it had raised $150 million in Series D funding, led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2, just seven months after a $60 million Series C.

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