It may seem obvious, but you have to know your market when you’re designing a new product or service. This is especially true if you’re creating a consumer electronics device, or if you want to create something for the elderly to use. And if you’re making an electronic device for the elderly, that’s a double-whammy that poses some significant challenges. A recent guest blog post by Brittany Weinberg, a project manager at the MedStar Institute for Innovation (MI2), makes three important points about designing wearables for the elderly.

First and foremost, you need to understand the rules and regulations governing your product. Is it going to need FDA clearance? Does it comply with any necessary Medicare or Medicaid requirements? There is a growing concern about privacy and data security for connected devices, so you need to know the latest regulations about privacy and the prevention of hacking to access sensitive data illegally.

Weinberg also cites “empathy” as an essential design consideration. The target population may have varying degrees of physical or cognitive impairment. Will your product help improve their quality of life, or will it be a source of confusion and frustration? And you need to consider how the product design will effect everyone involved, from the individual user, to the person’s caregivers, family members, and healthcare professionals. The third point is that you need to consider the potential benefits for all the stakeholders, so that the product can improve health outcomes, reduce costs, and enhance the quality of life.

The difference between an adequate solution and a superior one can make the difference between a company’s failure and success. Designing wearables for seniors has special requirements that must be considered right from the blank-sheet stage of development.