UCLA Conference – Technology Designed to Help Us Age Gracefully

A few weeks ago, I blogged about the upcoming UCLA Conference on Technology and Aging on October 30. I was asked to participate in a panel about how to design and market consumer products to help seniors live better and more fulfilling lives.

The panel, called “Designing for Seniors: Consumer Products for Better Living,” featured myself; Jeff Hill, president and co-founder of MyGait, LLC; and Bud Meyers, senior director of merchandising for firstSTREET for boomers and beyond. The panel was moderated by Susan Ayers Walker, managing director and founder of SmartSilvers Alliance.

The discussion primarily focused on how, combined with new business opportunities, social needs are creating more and better products to age gracefully. The intent is not to “dummy” down technology, but rather to make technology easier to use – a challenge companies that sell senior-oriented products must overcome.

Seniors by and large are not afraid of technology. In fact, according to a 2008 survey by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), more than 70% of people 60+ use search engines regularly. However, according to that same survey, 64% of people aged 60+ say “too many features” is the most common reason for why consumer electronics products frustrate them.

That is why we introduced the Doro PhoneEasy 345 and 410 cell phones last month – to provide today’s technology in a simple format. They are easy-to-use but also feature more advanced features, such as texting, an FM radio and a few games, making them the prefect phones to go with our simple, straight-forward cell phone plans.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about what you love or dislike about consumer electronics products.