The CDC reported that in 2015 there were approximately 45 million adults aged 65 or older in the U.S.: about 14% of the population. That number is expected to grow to 80 million — or 20% of the population — by 2050. We’ve written about a variety of devices, apps, and services developed to assist older people who wish to age in place, living independently in their own homes. For example, Oscar Senior is a tablet app that connects elderly people to family and caregivers. The Self-Drive Act, passed by the U.S. House, addresses the potential for self-driving cars to transport seniors to doctors appointments and other essential destinations.
LifePod is developing voice technology with a smart speaker that supports seniors who are aging in place. Billed as a “Proactive Voice-First Caregiving Service,” LifePod promises five quality of life features available without required “wake word” prompts: scheduled voice check-ins from selected contacts; reminders for medications, birthdays, appointments, or other events; voice access to weather, news, games, and more; companionship with audiobooks, jokes, trivia, and games; and alerts.
LifePod recently partnered with the Commonwealth Care Alliance (CCA) of Massachusetts to develop voice services for CCA members. There are few available specifics about LifePod’s hardware requirements, although a recently launched Indiegogo campaign has pricing information that suggests there is both a $589 retail startup cost for the device plus a monthly service fee. The company is also soliciting participants for a LifePod beta program.
It’s still early days for LifePod, with its apparently reliance on an Indiegogo campaign and lack of specifics about the technologies involved and how the service will work. Voice-driven smart devices could increase the value of other aging-in-place technologies including wearables and home sensors. While the market is huge and growing, the products and services need to reliably meet real needs at reasonable costs.