Heng, Stefab (2009): Age-appropriate information technology on the advance: Putting paid to olden times. Published in: E-conomics No. 74 (29. December 2009)
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Ageing society opens up enormous economic potential. Whereas for a long time social interpretation homed in on the doomsday scenarios of demographic change, it is the economic potential that is now emerging with increasing clarity. Information and communication technologies stand a good chance of benefiting from this trend. Older people are not intrinsically technology refuseniks, as evidenced by the growing number of silver agers using the internet. Successful products will be far removed from disenfranchisement and stigmatisation. The challenge to product developers and marketing strategists is to create age-appropriate offers that older people do not perceive as encroaching on their autonomy or pointing up their physical infirmities. Particularly promising are offers enabling barrier-free use without seeming like segregational solutions for specific age groups. User friendliness, value systems and the legal framework are currently stymieing yet wider success. Technical fascination aside, the business potential hinges directly on regulations concerning data protection, teletreatment and cost reimbursement, on user friendliness and society’s attitude towards the application of robotics in medicine and healthcare. The tasks involved are enormous. Product developers, marketing strategists, physicians, nurses and carers, politicians and older people in need of help themselves must be prepared to take the new routes. Assistance systems, e-Health and health games benefit from demographic change. The range of offers is highly diversified. They extend from ‘intelligent’ tablet dispensers, emergency bio sensor technology in motor vehicles and motion sensor technology through tele-monitoring and online consultations to brain jogging and exercise games.