I just returned from an author event in Milwaukee, where I discussed my book, “The Senior Sleuth’s Guide to Technology for Seniors.” I gave my talk highlighting some of the cool technologies available to seniors including computers, the Internet, medication management devices, tech for independent living, communication, travel and fun. And then I opened up the floor for questions and comments. Here are a few questions/comments that I received.
Q. Do the “life line” emergency call products work outside of your home?
A. The question was referring to those panic button products that you press when you’ve “fallen and can’t get up.” These have gotten more sophisticated and some now feature automatic fall detection. If you fall, an emergency call (or text) is sent to a monitoring service and/or friends. Unfortunately, these gadgets are currently all tethered to a receiver in your home. If you go beyond the receiver range and then fall, you are on your own. However, I’ve chatted informally with a couple of companies about whether they will offer a mobile solution, which will detect falls and send for help via a cell phone (or similar transmitting device), and most have hinted that they are currently working on some such solution.
(If anyone knows of a company that currently offers fall monitoring and alerts through a cell phone, please let me know.)
Q. Is your book already out of date?
A. Not yet. We published in late 2009 and we expect to remain relevant for at least 24 months. This book covers a broad range of technology types and then provides references for learning more about each. For example, the digital video cameras chapter features different types of cameras (from budget consumer to professional models) and then provides a couple of example models (from 2009). The sample models may go out of date quickly, but the “types” will be more persistent.
With that said, technology does change fast and so we’ll have to publish a new edition approximately every 24 months to keep up.
Q. What’s the “neatest” technology for seniors?
A. There are a lot of cool gadgets out there, but the thing I’m most excited about is robotics–especially robotics to improve mobility. Imagine an exoskeleton worn around your legs to improve your balance and supplement strength. Now imagine those leg supplements controlled by simple thought through a brain interface. This sounds like crazy sci-fi, but researchers are getting close.
On another note, I think the most *useful* and underutilized gadget out there is the automatic pill reminder/dispenser. If you take 5 or more pills a day (as 20% of Americans 60+ do), this could be the gadget for you.
I have another event coming up in early June. I’ll make sure to post the interesting questions/comments from that session as well.