Baby Boomers Fuel Wave Of Products Meant To Help Them Live Longer And Better

By Gary Robbins
The San Diego Union-Tribune

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Scientists are developing everything from mattress sensors that monitor a person’s heart, to “smart” walkers that look for obstacles, to belts that deploy air bags if someone is about to fall.

The San Diego Union-Tribune

“Holy cow, this is scary!”

Ken Goble was 160 feet above the ground, walking a narrow plank. Or so it seemed.

The 69-year-old was wearing a virtual reality headset that tricked him into thinking he was up high and in danger.

He was simply crossing a lab floor at San Diego State University, where scientists were using virtual reality to gauge how stress and anxiety influence a person’s gait and balance.

Researcher Harsimran Baweja stood nearby, smiling.

“We want to help people stay active and independent as they age,” Baweja said as his team checked sensors on Roble’s arms and legs. “If we see something, we can try to fix it. This is about quality of life and people’s dignity.”

It’s also about the rapid rise of “senior tech.”

Scientists are developing everything from mattress sensors that monitor a person’s heart, to “smart” walkers that look for obstacles, to belts that deploy air bags if someone is about to fall.

Seniors with dementia can wear GPS-equipped shoes that reveal their location to loved ones.

Researchers are no longer focused only on finding ways to treat sickness and disease.

Now, they’re broadly working with companies to fight the indignities of aging and help people live longer and better in their own homes.

It’s called “aging in place,” a nascent movement that’s largely being driven by tech-savvy baby boomers who hate the stigma and reality of getting older, both for themselves and their elderly parents.

It’s a message that resonates.

Tech giant Google — a bastion of youth — has come to realize that baby boomers might be early adopters of the self-driving cars that it’s developing.

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