Emerging Transportation and Mobility Tech for Older Adults
By Jess Walter
Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels
Almost 90 percent of homeowners approaching retirement want to age in place, according to AARP. Among the reasons for this is the fact that it gives them the opportunity to live in a home that is right for their needs and allows them to be closer to family, according to Marty Bell, executive director of NAIPC. Aging in place will be made easier with new tech developments that are making it easier for older adults to travel and live by themselves independently. These include Internet of Things (IoT) devices for convenience and mobility, and autonomous vehicles for transportation.
Be driven around with a machine
Ride hailing apps such as Uber and Lyft are already popular, not just in the United States, but all over the world. It is expected that in the future, people who use ride hailing apps will be able to hail autonomous vehicles. Autonomous vehicles will transport you anywhere you want to go without needing a human to drive you to your destination. This means that older adults will have an easier time visiting friends and family to socialize. One advantage of using self-driving cars is that they eliminate the biggest contributing factor in accidents: human error.
What this means
This means that whether you have mobility issues or impaired vision, autonomous vehicles will provide a new sense of freedom and independence. Currently, trust for autonomous vehicles is still very low because people of all ages are afraid to ride in a vehicle being driven by a machine, according to Nancy LeaMond, AARP’s executive vice president. Fortunately, companies, like Google, Tesla and Apple are testing autonomous vehicles that can drive themselves safely on all types of roads. Meanwhile, there are IoT smart devices that are already making it easy for older adults to age in place.
IoT offering convenience and better health
A simple definition of the Internet of Things (IoT) is devices that communicate with each other within a network. Almost any item that has sensors, can collect data and send this data through a network can be referred to as an IoT device. These include wearables, like smartwatches, and smart home devices, such as smart home assistants. A smartwatch can track a body’s vitals, detect things like abnormal sleeping patterns, and even call a doctor when it senses that someone has fallen down. Some of the wearables that can read vitals are Fitbit wearables and the Apple Watch.
Smart home devices, on the other hand, can not only help you keep healthy, but also offer convenience. They include speakers that notify about the weather and let users control almost any electronic device in the home with their voice. There are also smart thermostats that learn routines and automatically adjust themselves without anyone having to turn a knob or press a button. Smart devices are easy to install, and all that is needed to control them is a voice, gestures or an app on a smartphone.
What is more exciting about smart devices and autonomous cars is that they will be able to communicate with each other. Imagine a smart speaker actually calling an autonomous car that is closest to a location to come pick up a passenger and take them to their destination. Aging in place will never be the same again in the future.