Plenty of companies want to sell sensor-loaded smart home systems to support aging-in-place issues, but is that what seniors want? And what about wearables? Does the scope of wearables for older people center on fall detection and activity monitoring to make sure people move once in a while? We’ve written about studies of wearables for seniors at Open University, senior receptivity to health tech devices by GreatCall, and the effect of sensors on length of stay at TigerPlace, an independent living community associated with the University of Missouri.

Researchers at the University of Colorado College of Nursing ran a study to determine the perceptions of wearable and smart home technologies by older women. The subjects in the study were ten women with an average age of 65. Assistant Professor Blaine Reeder and Catherine Jankowski, both Ph.D.s, published their study in Informatics for Health and Social Care. Reeder and Jankowski focused on consumer-grade wearables such as fitness trackers and smartwatches with accelerometers. They considered smart home sensors designed for passive health monitoring in residential environments such as bed and chair pressure sensors, activity sensors, door and window sensors, and leak detection sensors to assess opinions about smart home sensors.

While participants in the study had few issues with data sharing and personal activity data collection with both technologies, there was a marked difference in preference base on age and activity. In short, the women in the study who were relatively active outside their homes preferred the wearables for themselves. But they were more interested in the smart home sensors for their parents.

Summarizing the study results, Reeder said that while there is a place for home sensors to support independent living, but women’s preferences must also be taken into consideration.

Effective marketing in any field involves developing products and services the market actually wants, not just what observers and analysts think they need. As an increasing percentage of America grays, subsets defined by perhaps three or four separate decades will likely have disparate needs and preferences in health technology.