As senior citizens get more and more interested in Internet-and-technology powered gadgets and children have new age-gizmos specially crafted to stimulate their minds; it's little wonder that International Consumer Electronics Show on at Las Vegas this week has sections dedicated to these age groups.
"Older consumers are becoming increasingly interested in technology, and corporations are working to meet this demand," said Majd Alwan, director of the Center for Aging Services Technologies.
AdvertisementChildren instinctively latch on to new gizmos, creating a need for devices that engage and perhaps improve their minds instead of merely occupying them.
Innovations on display at CES included sensors that alert care-givers when elderly people fall; don't stir for hours, or forget to turn off a burner on a stove.
There are devices that enable those whose ears aren't what they once were to hear television programs and telephone conversations.
People's vital statistics can be monitored in real time and the information automatically sent to doctors. Medicine dispensers have been adapted to remind people when it is time to take pills.
"Seniors prefer to stay in their homes," Alwan said during a CES session spotlighting new creations tailored for people whose bodies are yielding to the inexorable onslaught of time.
"That is where they have a more dignified aging experience."
A pharmasurveyor.com website provides a free way for people to figure out whether medicines they are taking might combine to cause dangerous side effects.
Plantronics-owned Clarity has a mobile telephone that is "very loud and only has four buttons so you don't get fouled up," a company spokesman explained.
Myine Electronics has crafted FM and Internet radios for those that think that there is too much prattling in broadcasts and that new-fangled radios are too complicated.
An Abbee FM radio records broadcasts and automatically deletes talk, leaving listeners with only the music, according to Myine founder Jake Sigal.
An Internet Radio Adapter launched this week fetches tunes online and then lets people listen later away from computers.
"This is taking old school FM radio and bringing it to life with new technology," Sigal said.
Dakim introduced Brain Fitness computer software that promises to keep seniors' minds in shape with as little as three 20-minute workouts weekly.
"It is really for everyone over 60 years old who really wants to protect their brain," said Dakim chief executive Dan Michel.
Quality of Life Technology Center research ready to be turned into consumer products includes "NavPrescience" that enables cars to "learn how you drive" and plot routes accordingly, said director Curt Stone.
For example, a car could come to "know" that its elderly owner shuns bridges or right-merge lanes.
The center has also developed a computer monitor that senses when a user is leaning closer and automatically enlarges on-screen images "so you don't have to keep squinting," Stone said.
"Scratch Input" lets people use walls, clothing or other surfaces as touch-panels to control devices, according to Stone.
"You could scratch a wall to turn lights on or off or just scratch your pants to turn off a phone ringing in your pocket," Stone said.
CES innovations include an Intel Classmate laptop modified so the screen flips and folds, converting to a tablet-style computer ideal for drawing or school projects.
The laptop has "accelerometer" software that lets it to sense which way it is being held and adjusts on-screen images accordingly.
Jeffrey Galenovsky of Intel dropped a Classmate computer from shoulder height to prove they are tough enough to handle careless handling for which youths are infamous.
Computer game giant Electronic Arts touted new versions of titles such as Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit to get people using their brains.
Princeton Review worked with French game titan Ubisoft to create a "My SAT Coach" game that lets people use Nintendo DC handheld devices to prepare for standardized school tests.
The Review also rolled out online classrooms and podcasts that include a "Pedagogic Troubadour" that playfully sings vocabulary lessons.
WowWee has added leopards, koala, seals, and Husky dogs to its line of plush robotic toys.
A "Spy Ball" to be brought to market by WowWee later this year can be rolled into a room, and then remotely maneuvered to spy on the occupants.
"You can spy on a brother or sister, keep tabs on your parents, or chase your dog around with it," WowWee spokesman Steve Hardy said while demonstrating a Spy Ball.