Technology in search of a problem, avoids baby boomer health and wealth

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Smart watches – really?  And we thought Google Glass was dangerous and pretty dumb.  But for those of you already okay with saying ‘Okay Google’ aloud to your glasses in a crowded airport, how about a $300 watch you can talk, tweet, and chat to, all while riding a bicycle? Watching a series of ads for the new Moto 360 (aka Google), we get to focus our eyes on the arm of a young guy. (Besides his stylish arm, we can see on the watch who he’s meeting, dating, biking with.) 

But perhaps Google is only trying to do a better job than the lecherous December Samsung ad.  Coming soon to both watches will be a few, uh, health features that are already lurking in new consumer tech – and really, these new and amazingly clunky-looking watches need a purpose. From a recent WSJ article, “A significant challenge for many new wearable devices, including Google’s Internet-connected eyewear Google Glass, may be finding uses for them.”

Smart phone and tablet use. For us baby boomer types, it is SO exciting that we may be able to track our blood work (presumably if we type that in after leaving the doctor’s office), oxygen saturation, and blood sugar – on our phone, and, all too soon on our very cool watch. No matter that more than half of boomers don’t even have smart phones.  No matter that the vast majority of people with diabetes (who worry about blood sugar) are older than 46Pulse oxygen saturation matters most to those with COPD – and most of those are over the age of 55. Ah, but fitness tracking, there’s the benchmark, since we apparently “prefer enhanced intelligent accessories that automatically monitor and upload biometric data” to typing it in to, horrors, a computer.

For boomer health and wealth – where’s the beef? So these rocket scientists at Google, at Samsung, at Apple, they know that baby boomers control three-quarters of the wealth in the United States, make up 25% of the population, and that their income is 61% more than younger cohorts. Also they must know that they have higher rates of chronic disease than the previous generation – and that 75% of them have hypertension?  They understand that differences matter when marketing to different cohorts, each of which has unique characteristics.  They know this and still, with a median age at Google of 29, at Samsung of 34, Apple at 33, no wonder! Articles have been written, lawsuits filed about hiring age discrimination – but the real and problematic result of all those young workers is their ignorance of market size and scale of people 20 or more years older than they are.