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Age-Tech: Empowering People to Choose How They Live as They Age

It's one of America’s most dynamic and promising sectors

The winner of AARP's Innovation Pitch Contest,  CEO Jo Ann Jenkins and Joe Montana all pose on stage for a photograph


The Zibrio SmartScale beat out seven other start-ups in the pitch contest at CES in Las Vegas.

En español | Even with the massive, ongoing growth of the 65-plus population in the U.S. and around the world, age-tech — the shorthand term for new tech-based products and services focused on the needs and interests of older people — isn’t a household word yet, but it’s headed in that direction.

And when you combine these population numbers with the formidable spending power of older Americans, which now totals $8.3 trillion per year and accounts for 56 cents of every dollar spent in the U.S., it’s easy to see why Age-Tech is one of America’s most dynamic, promising sectors.

At its heart, age tech is about empowering people — making their lives easier and enabling them to choose how they live as they age — to live independently in their own home (“aging in place”), to stay healthy, to keep connected and more. 

At AARP, one of our core beliefs is, “Be the change you want to see.”  So, in this context, if you want to see an increase in innovative senior-focused tech-based products and services, don’t just sit on the sidelines and hope for the best. Get involved and do what you can to make it happen.

Drilling down on that idea, the work of AARP Innovation Labs is to help drive innovations that hold the promise of empowering people to choose how they live as they age.  Most recently, at CES 2020 last month, we held a pitch competition that was won by the Zibrio SmartScale, which is bringing to market a scale that measures balance and assesses fall risk. More than 1 in 4 Americans 65 and older fall each year, making falls the leading cause of accidental death among this age group.

In addition, we were also proud to help showcase a group of promising new age-tech innovators, including:

  • HomeFit AR: an augmented reality app that can scan a room and reference AARP’s HomeFit guide to discover what improvements can be made to turn the house into a “lifelong home,” devoid of high safety and mobility risks. 
  • Savoan app that makes it easy for people to come together and support a loved one. Users can answer questions to create a task list and invite friends, family, coworkers and other members of the community to volunteer to help.
  • Artiphon: a company that designs smart instruments and apps that allow anyone to enjoy music-making.
  • VoiceItt: a speech recognition technology that translates unintelligible speech in real time, enabling people with severe speech impairments to communicate by voice.
  • SingFitan app that gives speech, occupational and dance therapists an easy way to implement singing experiences that improve cognitive function. 
  • Sana Healtha wearable neuromodulation device that uses pulsed light and sound to reduce or eliminate persistent chronic severe pain. In fibromyalgia, Sana reduced symptoms from severe to mild in two weeks. 
  • Embr Labs: the first thermal wellness technology company and the maker of the Wave, an intelligent bracelet that helps you feel colder or warmer by 5ºF.
  • Aidar Healthmaker of MouthLab™, a noninvasive, hand-held, "rapid health assessment" device that is designed to be used at home. 

Longer lives are a triumph of medicine, public health and technology, and if we can help innovative players like the ones we worked with at CES to accelerate the age-tech learning curve, we think end users will ultimately benefit.  As they say, a rising tide lifts all boats.

What’s Next Innovation Challenge

Not surprisingly, age-tech is a year-round focus for AARP.  We’re all in.  Later this month, AARP Innovation Labs is participating in another pitch event, this one centered on improving adoption of hearing aids. It’s called What’s Next Innovation Challenge.  With 1 in 3 Americans ages 65 to 74 suffering from hearing loss and half of those over age 75 having difficulty hearing, it’s just another example of how age-tech holds the promise of improving people’s lives.

Life-improving technology innovations that would’ve been difficult to fathom a generation ago, or less, are now taken for granted.  Given the rapid expansion of the world’s older population, age tech is poised to play a similar empowering role, and our goal at AARP is to help champion that evolution.