Category Archives: High Tech Applications

Seniors Traveling Virtually

Senior woman using vr glassesExciting things continue to happen at the interface between tech and psychology.  In this case new applications in Virtual Reality are serving the needs of seniors in retirement homes who tend to be limited in their ability to travel and continue experiencing the world directly.  We know that depression in seniors can result from the inevitable decline in health and the related difficulty of being present and engaged in social events. is a new startup testing out the ability of seniors to travel virtually and experience the world in new ways.  One application of this is for family members to rent the camera system that would allow the senior to experience an event in real time as though he/she were present in person.  What an exciting idea!  See the story here.

A similar idea has been piloted in Australia by Feros Care where a robot (IPad mounted on a Segway) can roam in various locations all the while controlled remotely by seniors in a retirement home.  How cool is that !

(Here’s a local example in San Francisco using more static content. )

While the robot system has some advantages of mechanically responding to instructions from the senior, I wonder if a human avatar would be more responsive and adaptable.  In the future there might be a new industry of human “traveling avatars”, equipped with camera systems, who would be employed to travel to interesting destinations or events, live-feeding the experience back to the senior who would otherwise not be able to attend.  While there is no substitute for “being there”, this could be the closest experience for a senior who would otherwise not be able to have the experience…

Iphone Detecting Bipolar Swings

Saleswoman displaying iphone to camera, based on touch-pad technologyBipolar Disorder continues to be difficult to assess and diagnose accurately given that there has not been any recognized blood test or easily sampled biomarker. While there are some iphone apps to help document mood swings, recent small study in Italy has demonstrated how technology may be used to help with monitoring the characteristic swing of moods. The study used a very small sample size of 12 patients over the course of 12 weeks but it illustrates a potential way that technology might be used to track some of the behaviors that are often associated with bipolar mood swings such as hyperactivity and rapid speech that was operationalized as increased iphone use,  Accurate assessment and diagnosis continues to rely on accurate self reports and reports by friends or family members but perhaps technological approaches with new sensors and tracking approaches can help to better monitor and plan treatment.

New Technology for Aging Workers

Senior businesswoman with eyeglasses working in the officeHere is a fascinating collection of videos of people talking about their experiences being “over 50 and out of work.” It has been shown through many studies that many unemployed seniors often have depression and anxiety as they face an uncertain future. With the aging population, many designers are revising their products for an aging workforce to help keep the elderly productive. Hopefully high tech will continue to turn it’s creative energies to provide both a profitable and valuable service.