Sunday, September 30, 2018

Not much going on in the ageing business - the Apple Watch 4 is worth a few words

It is 6 months ago that I last wrote a blog post. I am very touched by the number of people who contacted me to enquire if I was OK. I am in fine health (I think) and my silence has been intentional - for a couple of reasons.

The first these is positive - I have been working flat out on another project that has nothing to do with ageing. In addition I spent a lot of time enjoying myself.

The other reason for my silence is negative - there is precious little new taking place.

When you have been reading, writing and talking about all things ageing, for the last 15 years, you reach a point where nothing much new seems to be happening. Perhaps that is inevitable?

For sure the ageing-blob is alive and kicking and seems to be doing OK. Lots of research and conferences about the same things it was researching and having conferences about 5 years ago. Thankfully for the blob there is a constant stream of new people, with a passing interesting in the subject of longevity/demographics or whatever you want to call the subject. It is sad when much of the research and commentary is portrayed as being new, rather than a re-hash of previous work.

Unfortunately, the BIG issues of ageing remain and their consequences become more acute. Little being done to solve the problems or to capture the opportunities. Rather, all the attention seems to on trying to find technological solutions to ageing's peripheral issues. Well done to the guys who are making money out of this funding and innovation business, but I haven’t seen much in the way of new products and services that are going to change the world or indeed make a profit.

I suspect that I am taking an overly negative view of things and will keep a watching brief on the subject and comment, from time to time. Hopefully, there is some genuinely innovative thinking going on. I will be the first to comment upon it when it breaks cover.

That all said, the launch of the Apple Watch 4 is worthy of comment. Not the most exciting of presentations but the new functionality is most interesting. The biggest round of applause from the audience came with the announcement of its Electro Cardiogram (ECG) feature. I would guess the average age of the audience was less than 30 and here they were getting excited about a feature that very few of them would need for a couple of decades. it is a weird world. The watch also has the ability to detect falls. OK, I guess a lot of the audience cycle and it might be relevant to them but most falls occur to older people.

So it looks like Apple is expanding the market for the watch from fitness to now include health, and particularly health issues that affect older people.

You cannot please everybody and Laurie Orlov has had a rant (her words not mine)
about the way the fall functionality was implemented. I think she is being a tad unfair. For me it is great to see a world leading supplier starting to add some sophisticated features to its product line that are of particular use to older consumers. What's the betting that by the time the Apple Watch 6 is launched it will be something that is prescribed by NHS GPs. Dick Stroud

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