weekly blog--one for the ages
It’s HubWeek once again in Boston, the annual event which celebrates the area’s business, technology and arts community. In its first go-round three years ago, there was hardly a mention of aging, the closest being demonstrations for drone deliveries and self-driving cars. Last year, one of the events highlighted the medical research taking place to extend health span, the years you live in relatively good health before succumbing to the diseases of aging.
This year the focus was on technology to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of caregivers. Alas, there wasn’t much to talk about resulting in what’s called a “Reverse Panel” where people in the field present issues that challenge entrepreneurs to find solutions. Of concern is a growing population that would prefer to age in place (stay in their homes and community), and a shortage of caregivers to provide support.
Keeping a person safe and comfortable at home starts with using smartphones or tablets that serve as a central platform to automate door locks, motion sensors, streaming music, blood pressure monitors, medication reminders, video chat and more. More complicated is developing technology that handles the activities of daily living such as bathing, cooking, grooming, cleaning, walking, using the bathroom, and oral hygiene.
Enter the world of carebots. Given Japan’s rapidly aging population, the country leads the way in devising more practical and affordable robots to help seniors handle daily tasks, and has allocated one-third of its budget for research, according to news reports. The big question that lingers: will robots ever be able to truly replace caregivers and provide the empathy and emotional support?