How Longevity Explorers Are Tipping Technology in Favour of Seniors
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Finding solutions to the challenges posed by an aging population usually involve the top political minds, researchers and healthcare professionals — everyone, that is, except the massive demographic entering their later years.
Richard Caro, a San Francisco entrepreneur and co-founder of a public benefit company called Tech Enhanced Life, has set out to change that dynamic with a group of older adults called longevity explorers.
With his San Francisco-based group, Caro aims to help older adults participate in the tech industry, not only as informed consumers, but also as contributors.
“[There’s] a meme that older adults just consume stuff and younger adults create things,” Caro tells Zoomer. “I think that’s a flawed meme. In our groups, many of the explorers are bubbling with ideas.”
During their regular club meetings, the Explorers — which consist mostly of adults over the age of 60 — discuss their unmet needs, brainstorm solutions to the challenges of aging and conduct product explorations, where they evaluate and recommend existing products and services geared toward their demographic. The information and product reviews from these sessions are published on the TechEnhancedLife.com, where users can also sign up to become a member of the online community.
However, Caro says product developers, who have little insight into the lives of older adults, often miss the mark when creating products for an older demo.
“I think it cuts across the entire spectrum of types of products and services,” Caro says. “It’s extremely hard for someone in their 20s, 30s or 40s to put themselves in the shoes of an 80-year-old.”
To address this disconnect, the Longevity Explorers also participate in sponsored explorations, where a company commissions them to test out a product in the early stages of development and provide feedback and suggestions for improvements.
The sponsored explorations typically involve new tech products and have included the testing of artificial intelligence applications for older adults.
“They’re usually shocked at the insight and depth of contribution and just how off target their initial thoughts were,” Caro says of the developers who participate.
Lynn Davis, who’s been a member of the Longevity Explorers for three years, says the group has reminded her that her generation has “a lot to offer.”
“It makes me think differently about being 70-and-a-half,” Davis says. “It makes me remember that I’m a problem-solver.”