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AARP’s Innovation Labs is Discovering Better Ways to Age

By supporting entrepreneurs, AARP is finding tech that serves older adults

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Mighty Health, XRHealth, Goalsetter and Beeyonder, going clockwise, are among more than 75 start-up products and services that have become part of the AgeTech Collaborative from AARP.

AARP’s AgeTech Collaborative program, part of its Innovation Labs, sorts through hundreds of new products and services each year meant to help older Americans age healthier and happier.

The most promising companies and their ideas receive expert mentorship through an eight-week AgeTech Accelerator program to develop their products and bring them to the public faster.

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In the year since the collaborative began, more than 75 start-ups have become part of the program. So far, AARP has also invested in roughly 50 businesses.

And 18 start-ups were part of the AARP AgeTech Collaborative booth at CES, previously known as the Consumer Electronics Show, in January in Las Vegas.

The aim is not simply for AARP to see a financial return but to provide older adults with modern, useful and accessible products that improve their daily lives as the world population ages.

In 2021, about 119.6 million people in the United States were 50 and older, about 36 percent of the country’s total population, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. The numbers will steadily tick upward in the next 30 years, reaching 154.6 million older adults and 41 percent of the U.S. population by 2050, according to a report from AARP and Economist Impact that was updated to reflect the effects of the pandemic.

Along with an increase in numbers comes an increase in economic clout. Those who are 50 and older are responsible for nearly 46 percent of the U.S. economic output, rising to more than half by 2050, the AARP report shows. More than 56 cents of every dollar in consumer spending comes from this age group, and that will grow to more than 62 cents of every dollar by 2050.

So in the long run, an investment of resources into promising new businesses will help older adults and the nation’s economy.

7 recent partnerships

Beeyonder. Beeyonder provides live and interactive virtual tours of popular travel destinations around the world.

Its accessible and inclusive travel offerings allow you to revisit a place you love or make new unforgettable memories somewhere else. Spend the morning at the pyramids in Egypt and the afternoon walking through the turrets of a Scottish castle.

Boston-based Beeyonder was founded by Brittany Palmer, a bilateral amputee who has overcome many challenges, and whose mission is to help others overcome challenges to in-person traveling. Private tours are available individually or as packages.

Casana. What if a trip to the bathroom could save your life? The Heart Seat by Casana, based in Rochester, New York, is a toilet seat that measures blood pressure, blood oxygen and heart rate.

The goal is to spot a health concern before it escalates. The seat sends the data to a secure dashboard, which enables patients to share their health trends with their primary care physicians or cardiologists.

Flowly. Virtual reality (VR) worlds can trigger the benefits of deep relaxation without the use of prescription drugs, studies say. Flowly lets you get lost in those worlds.

The headset allows you to travel through acres of cherry blossoms, deserted beaches and deep green forests. Flowly guides you through personalized breathing exercises while biofeedback sensors monitor your heart rate and respiration via Bluetooth, so you can track and manipulate the rate at which your body is relaxing.

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Flowly’s effects have been tested in trials and proven to ease chronic pain and anxiety. The company is based in Pasadena, California.

Goalsetter. Goalsetter is a family saving, investing, financial education and smart spending platform that protects user privacy with the latest cybersecurity features.

You can set chores and projects for unlocking allowances, award money for taking part in financial literacy quizzes, and obtain debit cards that have limits on how and where money is spent. Families can set up recurring contributions to a savings pot to finance goals such as vacations. The company is based in New York City.

Mighty Health. This app aims to be the first all-in-one exercise, nutrition and wellness program for older adults.

Find recipes and cooking videos to lower cholesterol, workouts that go easy on the joints and even a chance to demystify the world of mindfulness and reap the benefits of yoga. Mighty Health, based in San Francisco, connects users to a virtual community where members share their progress and concerns, creating an in-it-together feeling.

Trust & Will. Avoid thousands of dollars in legal fees by creating your will online through the easy-to-use platform of Trust & Will, based in San Diego.

Ensure your family, assets and health care wishes are taken care of the way you want. AARP members get a 10 percent discount on state-specific estate plans that start at only $159 for a will and $599 for a trust.

XRHealth. This program takes telehealth to the next level, offering the full scope of a physical and occupational therapy clinic in your living room. That’s done through XRHealth’s own metaverse — a virtual environment that you can enter using a virtual reality or augmented reality headset.

Meet with your licensed physical or occupational therapist regularly on video calls to establish and update your treatment plan before entering the three-dimensional world where you take part in guided exercises and interactive games that work your body and mind. Within this metaverse, you can join VR support groups where you share experiences with the avatars of other community members.

The FDA has approved the Needham, Massachusetts-based company’s medical applications, and Medicare covers the program.

Other AgeTech start-ups at CES

All of the young companies above, except for XRHealth, were in AARP’s booth at CES from Jan. 5 to 8 in Las Vegas. A dozen additional start-ups that the AgeTech Collaborative has mentored joined them there:

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Amicus Brain Inventions of Chappaqua, New York, uses artificial intelligence to help caregivers who need advice as they help loved ones with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. In addition to immediate answers from an AI-guided adviser, the platform has a library of articles and videos that give information about behavioral changes and other challenges.

Braze Mobility of Toronto employs smart car technology to help people who use electric wheelchairs. Its blind spot sensors, when added to any wheelchair, can help users avoid obstacles, reduce damage to their wheelchairs and places where they travel, and stay independent.

•  Camino Robotics of Pasadena, which participated in the July 2021 Better Aging Through Technology pitch competition, created a walker that helps people navigate rough and uneven surfaces and uses artificial intelligence to monitor a person’s gait. of Millbrae, California, a participant in AARP’s fall 2021 Grand Pitch Finale, uses avatars such as cats and dogs to tackle social isolation and reduce loneliness. Behind the avatar is a trained health advocate to help people manage chronic conditions.

Kinoo of Mountain View, California, which won AARP’s Grand Pitch Finale in fall 2021, launched its augmented reality app and video chat platform in May 2022 that helps grandparents and grandchildren stay in touch and engaged whether they’re down the street or across the country.

Labrador Systems of Calabasas, California, which debuted its nightstand-sized Labrador Retriever robot at CES in January 2022, created the robot to be an extra set of hands that can hold medications or larger objects up to 25 pounds.

• MindMics of Cambridge, Massachusetts, which came to the attention of the AgeTech Collaborative through the 2021 Boston-based MassChallenge accelerator program, developed wireless earbuds that play your favorite music and use sound to measure heart health with almost the same accuracy as an electrocardiogram. It expects to launch a 5,000-earbud pilot program in early 2023.

Paperwork of Oakland, California, a financial app that partners with credit unions and other financial institutions, allows them to offer account information, financial education and storage for important documents in one place. That helps credit union members improve their financial health as they age.

RAZ Mobility of Tysons Corner, Virginia, which won the Connect & Thrive Pitch Competition in March 2022 in Miami, designed the RAZ Memory Cell Phone that has an always-on screen with names and pictures of six contacts that a user can call with a tap. It was created for people with memory loss.

Tellus You Carebased in San Francisco, also came to the attention of the AgeTech Collaborative through the 2021 MassChallenge accelerator program. It uses sensors with radar — not cameras or wearables — to monitor users’ habits and health remotely.

The Last Gameboard of Denver combines the idea of old-fashioned tabletop board games with digital audio and visual technology to allow you to have a game night at home with friends or play remotely with others far away.

Zibrio of Houston, which won AARP’s Grand Pitch Finale in fall 2020, produces a scale and an app that helps measure and predict a person’s balance and risk of falling on a particular day.

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