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Boomers and Technology: An Extended Conversation

Futurist Michael Rogers explores what Boomers want and expect when they look around the corner.

silhouetted man in front of large video screen

— Photo by Richard Newstead/Getty Images

What do those attitudes mean for the boomer of the future? Here's a brief projection of what their lives might look like 10 years from now—in 2019, when the youngest boomer turns 55. These forecasts are based on technology that is either soon coming to market or feasible over the next decade, combined with the interests of the study participants.

Digital Fitness. Boomers will wear sensor-equipped exercise clothing to keep track of their physical condition during workouts, their calories burned—and  upload it all to an online record. Even their running shoes will contain sensors and GPS to provide additional data. Their mobile devices may even be set to (gently) remind them when they're falling behind on their exercise routines.

Chip Me, Doc. Once Boomers are confident about security and privacy, they will be early adopters of electronic health records—many would even choose to have them implanted as tiny chips. And they'll start keeping their own records online, using digital diagnostic devices to upload their weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, even the results of a mini-EKG.

Gene Scans. Boomers will buy low-cost gene scans that they'll integrate into their own health data. They'll then upload the information to new personal-health social networks that privately link people with "comparables"—individuals with similar genetic makeups and backgrounds—with whom to compare notes on health issues.

New News. Some boomers' breakfast routines will include reading the news with mobile devices and sophisticated e-readers that they keep on the table, right next to the coffee and cereal. But even when boomers embrace the convenience and personalization of electronic delivery, they will still look to the major news brands both for news aggregation and credibility.

Good-Bye to Tiny Screens. Boomers will demand mobile phones with built-in projectors: They envision pushing a button to see an image on the wall. Past that, we'll see data-glasses with prescription lenses that are connected wirelessly to mobile devices. The display would appear on the lower half of the lens—right in the area of bifocals used in reading.

Social Networks. For boomers, social networks will become as commonplace as the telephone—particularly to link them into the lives of their children and grandchildren in a way that's unobtrusive yet meaningful. And personal videoconferencing will be commonplace: High-definition video cameras on the big screen in the living room will enable regular family-to-family chats.

Employment, Boomer Style. Boomers who are past the 9-to-5 routine but still working part-time will become the masters of tele-presence: videoconferencing with HD and surround sound. Boomers will move to some very pleasant locales, yet stay in the midst of the action. No longer at the water cooler, they'll instead organize their opportunities through sophisticated and business-oriented social networks.

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