Gadgets for Seniors Introduced at Consumer Electronics Show


For the first time in its 41-year history, the 2009 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, held January 8-11, had a daylong exhibition and conference devoted to aging and technology. The January 10 Silvers Summit featured panels, presentations, and product Senior assistance, Gadgets for Seniors, senior helpdemonstrations from companies such as Electronic Arts, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Microsoft, and Qualcomm.
The exhibition showcased the latest high-tech gadgets, brain games, consumer medical technology, and media "that keep 'silvers' engaged, entertained, connected, and healthy," according to the Silvers Summit press release.

Here's a look at some of the new products at the show:

* A bathroom scale by Tunstall sends a signal via Bluetooth to a control box, which not only reads the weight aloud but also asks you questions about how you're feeling and records the answers for someone else (a family member or physician) to evaluate. The control box also works with gadgets measuring blood pressure, oxygen level, activity level, and other markers of health. You can instruct the box to alert you if a family member's weight goes up or down by a certain amount or if answers to questions suggest trouble.

* A home monitoring system called GrandCare lets relatives upload photographs, appointments, or messages to a device that looks like a television with a touchscreen. The company charges a monthly fee to manage the flow of data.

* Motion detectors and sensors track whether a family member fell, opened a pill bottle, made coffee, used the bathroom excessively at night, wandered out of the home, hasn't stirred for hours, or forgot to turn off a burner on a stove. Other devices monitor vital statistics in real time and automatically send the information to doctors. "Smart" medicine dispensers remind people when it's time to take pills.

* Clarity's C900 mobile phone has a hidden keypad with very large buttons, an amplified earpiece, and a panic button on the back that automatically dials five preprogrammed numbers when triggered. This simple phone lacks the camera, music players, and other frills typical of other phones.

More New Products

Here are some more of the new products at the show:

* Senior-friendly computers, such as notebooks with single rather than dual latches so they can be opened with one hand, and desktop displays that have dual hinges that can be lowered to accommodate people with multifocal lenses. SeniorPC, a joint effort of HP and Microsoft, are computers designed for seniors who have little or no computer experience. They're HP laptops and desktops with software that simplifies emailing, word processing, and Internet use; they also offer memory games as well as prescription-management software to help track when and which medications are taken. Assistive technology products are also available, providing more access to those who have physical or cognitive difficulties.

* The Abbee Commercial-Free FM Radio ($250) was shown by Myine Electronics. It records FM radio while automatically removing commercials and deejay chatter.

* Dakim Brain Fitness computer software offers mental workouts from a variety of games designed to keep seniors' minds in shape.

* Not yet released, but on display, were several products created by the Quality of Life Technology Center. One is Nav Prescience, an enhanced navigation system that enables cars to learn a driver's habits and preferences to plot routes accordingly. For example, a car could learn that its driver doesn't like to make left turns, so the routes given would not include left turns. The center has also developed a computer monitor that senses when users are leaning closer and automatically enlarges the screen image to keep them from squinting. And "Scratch Input" lets people scratch on walls, clothing, or other surfaces to control devices such as lights or ringing phones.

In addition to the exhibits, there was an all-day conference, with sessions that addressed lifestyle and dynamics of senior consumers, the growing brain fitness market, innovations in wireless bandages and pills, ways to effectively monitor elderly relatives, and trends in personal health care information.

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Silver Planet is a trusted destination for Senior Resources on Aging, Health, Finance, Living and Scam Prevention designed for Baby Boomers and 55-plus Seniors. Learn more about Silver Planet Resources and Articles.