Periodically I like to check out the new and/or updated technologies for aging in place that are being brought to market. Here are a few I found interesting:
Microsoft, in an effort to improve its technology for people challenged by limited motor skills or for those visually or hearing disabled, has made changes to its new operating system, Windows 8, to significantly enhance accessibility. Both Microsoft Magnifier and Microsoft Narrator have been improved with touch capabilities making them much simpler to use and maneuver. To make these features easier to find, greater emphasis has been put on the Windows Ease of Access Center which will be clearly visible on the systems home page. The Ease of Access Center poses questions that are designed to direct the user to the features they need to be using. For example, “Do you have difficulty reading the screen?” will prompt someone to open the Magnifier function. And while not there yet, Microsoft’s journey is towards broader accessibility. Eventually users will be able to interact with their computer or tablet using the method they’re most comfortable with -- keyboard, voice recognition or even gestures – virtually eliminating any visual, auditory, or dexterity impediments they might have.
Care Technology Systems and Qualcomm Life have partnered to create is a cloud based system that enables provider and users to capture data for any wireless medical device and deliver it in a secure and reliable system. Information can be easily retrieved by physicians, caregivers, or other critical audiences, for use in healthcare decisions. The company provides fall detection monitoring, activity monitoring, and biometric monitoring (pulse oximeter, glucometer, weight scale, and blood pressure cuff) which is FDA approved and HIPAA compliant. Read more at www.caretechsys.com
Telikin is committed to helping people who are computer novices connect with family, friends and the world. Telikin makes the easy to use, all-in-one, touchscreen computer that integrates features such as video chat with integrated Skype, photo sharing with an integrated facebook application, email, contacts, weather, news, full web browser, word processing, built in video help and more in a virus free system. With the large monitor, intuitive interface, easy menu of popular features, and extensive customer support, Telikin helps people stay connected to their families, friends and the world. Find out more at www.telikin.com
With an estimated 36 million American facing age-related hearing loss and the hearing aid market estimated at $6 billion dollars globally, the race is on to apply current technology -- such as that used in noise cancellation and miniaturization -- to an inexpensive, user friendly hearing device. Personal Sound Amplification Products (PSAP) are being marketed as less expensive alternative to a traditional hearing aid. PSAPs are classified as electronics and not as medical devices by the Food and Drug Administration, consequently they are not regulated and do not require a prescription. While these personal sound amplifiers may help people hear things that are at low volume or at a distance, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wants to ensure that consumers don't mistake them—or use them as substitutes—for approved hearing aids. "Hearing aids and personal sound amplification products (PSAPS) can both improve our ability to hear sound," says Eric Mann, M.D., Ph.D, clinical deputy director of FDA's Division of Ophthalmic, Neurological, And Ear, Nose, and Throat Devices. "They are both wearable, and some of their technology and function is similar." There are a number of companies making PSAPs which range from well under $100 to around $1,000, unlike a typical pair of hearing aids which cost $3000-$4000. Able Planet, a $140 million consumer electronics company, offers a tiny, in-ear device, called Personal Sound, which has won numerous product awards. To read more see www.ableplanet.com/products/hearing-health
Susan Luxenberg, President