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New Era Solutions - The Melding Of Technology, Health And Active Aging


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From The ICAA Journal Of Active Aging in 2018, Colin Milner Interviews Bryan O'Rourke To Understand Emerging Technologies And Their Impact On The Quality Of Life .

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New Era Solutions - The Melding Of Technology, Health And Active Aging

  1. 1. The Journal on Active Aging/Special technology issue 2018 www.icaa.cc48 Continued on page 50 ‘New era’solutions: Emerging technologies to improve quality of life Trends The market opportunity for health, fitness and wellness— including ‘betterment’—prod- ucts and services encompass- es technologies in four arenas by Colin Milner There is one simple truth about the 1.6 billon adults worldwide who are over age 501 : They all have challenges that technology can play a role in improving. From health and wellness to communi- cations and transportation, the oppor- tunity is immense for any organization that will listen, learn, create, implement and deliver technological solutions that can help meet this population’s diverse—and growing—needs, wants and expectations, not to mention their aspirations. In 2015, the active-aging market rep- resented a USD$24.4-billion market opportunity for technology providers, according to the Consumer Technology Association’s CTA Market Report: Active Aging,2 released in March 2016. This op- portunity is expected to grow to $42.7 billion by 2020, CTA predicts. So, what are the areas that hold promise for those delivering wellness programs? As CEO of the International Coun- cil on Active Aging®, I recently had an intriguing interview with Bryan O’Rourke to explore this question for the Journal on Active Aging’s technology issue. O’Rourke, a seasoned executive, investor, board member and advisor, has worked with many global brands and organizations in technology, health and fitness. He is also president of the nonprofit Fitness Industry Technology Council [Ed. Turn to page 57for a brief biography]. Active-aging organiza- tions seek to embrace new and existing technologies while planning for what is on the horizon, so I asked this industry leader to share his insights with JAA readers. Let’s jump right in to the discussion. CM: Beyond “wearables,” what do you consider to be some exciting new areas in technology in health, wellness and fitness? BO: There are many exciting emerg- ing technologies that extend beyond the wearables trend. For the most part, these technologies encompass four basic arenas:
  2. 2. ‘Technologies can be used to help people live healthier, happier lives while making our organizations and businesses more effective,’ says Bryan O’Rourke. Image courtesy of Bryan K. O’Rourke
  3. 3. The Journal on Active Aging/Special technology issue 2018 www.icaa.cc50 ‘New era’solutions:Emerging technologies to improve quality of life Continued from page 48 • artificial intelligence [AI] • interfaces, like voice and augmented [AR] or virtual reality [VR] • sensors • automated solutions, like robotics These technologies essentially come down to data inputs, and the outputs that humans interact with or benefit from. Driving the evolution of the emerging tech—and its backbone— are 24/7 connectivity to the Internet, cloud computing, and continued ad- vancing hardware and software. Com- bined, these components are leading to the Internet of Things (or “IoT”), a global network of intelligent cyber- physical systems that futurist Kevin Kelly calls “the Holos.”3,4 [Ed. See page 54 for some resources in which Kelly describes this concept.] When we define technology arenas in this way, it helps clarify our understand- ing of fitness, health, wellness and, as I like to term them, “betterment” prod- ucts and services that will likely emerge. We see evidence of these arenas in the new products and services available now that reflect these trends. For example, voice interface solu- tions (like Amazon’s Alexa) now offer meditation, fitness, nutrition, and other voice applications for humans. Vi, Life- BEAM’s AI personal trainer, coaches people who are exercising with voice. Expect voice to continue to emerge as a significant interface platform with all technologies because of its convenience and intuitive nature. The continued evolution of AI will en- able more productive applications for users. Noom, which monitors and pro- vides expert advice and analysis to help people manage their weight, recently became the first online platform to be recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] as an effective program for reducing the risk of diabetes. This is a turning point for AI in the health and fitness sphere. CDC is planning to allow patients to be reimbursed by Medicare, which could encourage doctors to recommend AI solutions. In the area of mental health, AI applica- tions like Replika mimic being a human friend, learning from and about you the more you interact with them. Woebot is an online therapist that helps apply cognitive behavior techniques to improve users’ moods. AR and VR technologies like Magic Leap One and Oculus Go are also bringing new immersive interfaces to people, resulting in more impactful experiences. Gamifi- cation of activity—as we saw with the Pokemon Go phenomenon—will become more prevalent, as will the ability for vid- eo content to become more emotionally impactful. Motivation, education, deeper understanding and further exposure to the world in general can have tremendous benefits for humanity. There are many examples of these ex- citing new technologies, which are so important because they can do a much better job of improving the quality of people’s lives. We are just getting started and the potential is significant. In the end, technologies can be used to help people live healthier, happier lives while making our organizations and businesses more effective. CM: How are these technologies being implemented, and by whom? BO: Ultimately, adoption of technolo- gies comes down to people’s choices—the telephone replaced the telegraph, for example, due to cost and convenience. The adoption of new technologies does take time, however. And there is always a learning curve. First, with respect to implementation, technologies are being applied to impact five key areas in the most foreword- thinking organizations: • hyperpersonalization—highly per- sonalized offerings made possible through the collection and use of customer data • uber-convenience—service offerings that save time and effort at all aspects of the customer experience
  4. 4. The Journal on Active Aging/Special technology issue 2018 51 Continued on page 52 • frictionless transactions—simplified purchase processes that enable quick and easy payment decisions • omnichannel delivery—integrated on- and offline channels (digital and physical) used to deliver offerings, experiences or content • content—materials created to give audiences valuable information rather than simply to sell products or services, all with the ultimate goal of motivating customers to act The new technologies that I previously mentioned—AI, new interfaces like voice and AR, sensors, and automated solutions—comprise key parts of the engines that make executing these five dynamics possible. People use tools they enjoy and which are more effective and less costly than alternatives. Therefore, in order to help people be healthier and happier, successful health, wellness and fitness solutions—including “betterment” solu- tions—must be designed with these five criteria in mind. Second, with respect to who is adopting these technologies, there are those “im- plementing” them and others transform- ing their entire organizations around them—there is a difference. In a world where customers’ expectations continue to heighten, you are either moving to- ward the future quickly or being crushed by it. It is inadequate for companies to try to implement certain technology fea- tures instead of assessing the potential to transform user experiences and econom- ics holistically by using technology. My research suggests “outlier” organiza- tions that excel at digital transformation represent only 4–8% of the existing competitors in any consumer industry, with another 15% making meaningful progress toward reengineering their user experiences. That leaves around 80% of competitors as average, mediocre or poor. It is a great time to be an innovator or new entrant in “betterment,” because the opportunities are significant. Many new technology trends are introduced by new companies unburdened by legacy thinking or functions. CM: Please highlight a few new products that could significantly impact the well- being of older adults, and tell us why. BO: The “healthcare” experience is a good reference point to juxtapose legacy operations and new era solutions while identifying real products in the market- place. Think of going to see a physician for basic care as opposed to using the Doctor On Demand app. In the old world, you drive somewhere, fill out paperwork, wait, and see a physician for maybe 10 minutes to obtain a diagnosis. This endeavor can take several hours. In the new era, with Doctor On Demand, you use an app on your telephone to see the licensed doctor via video and have a diagnosis performed in a matter of minutes without having to go anywhere. The realm of traditional healthcare will undergo massive transformations that extend beyond this example. Look for voice interface and AI to usher in an era of intelligent assistants, advis- ing you of the medications you need to take and ensuring you get adequate activity and sleep and eat well. Constant monitoring of health conditions will be a given, as will proactive interventions around unhealthy episodes. The Apple Watch has already been credited with notifying many users of cardiac events and conditions, saving lives; it now also reminds you to stand up or meditate. Solutions like this are appearing in the form of Google’s Assistant and Apple’s Siri. In fact, Siri can now recognize be- haviors and prompt certain actions or reminders to help. Running late? Siri can text your boss. Son’s birthday? Remind- ed. This is just the beginning. As we see in Japan today, personal robots are entering the mainstream that offer both physical and emotional support to older and younger people. Countless robots are for sale. From the Pepper and Temi robots available today, with many more emerging and under development, expect robots to become an increasingly common reality in a variety of industries and in people’s homes in the coming years. CM: Today, we talk about smart homes, smart clubs, smartwatches, etc. Where do you see this area heading? BO: The term smart in this context commonly refers to the Internet of Things. The collection of data via sen- sors, the storage of that data in the cloud, and the use of machine learning and AI can combine to create a litany of helpful solutions. Massive data collec- tion is resulting in insights that were not possible previously. The industry that has the greatest chance to be transformed by smart tech- nologies is traditional healthcare as it morphs into scientific wellness, a quanti- tative approach that includes improving the health of individuals, creating per- sonalized treatments, reversing disease transitions and reducing costs. This new industry will be distinct from more con- temporary wellness trends. The reams of data on health and deeper understand- ing of individual genomes will make a major impact on treating debilitating diseases and chronic conditions. Health- care will shift to improving wellness for the individual, creating medicine that is preventive, personalized and participatory while reversing rising cost trends. Alzheimer’s disease, for example, costs nearly half a trillion dollars a year and Bryan K. O’Rourke, MBA Bryan O’Rourke is an executive, investor, board member and advi- sor who works with many global brands and organizations in technol- ogy, health and fitness. O’Rourke has contributed to five books with colleagues in the fitness sector and written numerous articles and re- ports. He also has been interviewed for the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Inc. Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine and others. In addition, he has delivered keynotes at industry conferences and events on four con- tinents. Learn more about O’Rourke at or connect with and follow him on most social networks @bryankorourke.
  5. 5. The Journal on Active Aging/Special technology issue 2018 www.icaa.cc52 ‘New era’solutions:Emerging technologies to improve quality of life Continued from page 51 is largely managed after later stage di- agnosis. Data clouds about patients and computer-aided diagnostics will enable researchers and clinicians to pinpoint the earliest sign of cognitive decline, which can happen anywhere from 4 to 10 years prior to today’s diagnoses. From there, scientists can divide Alzheimer’s into subtypes and use individuals with high genetic risk to track cognitive tran- sitions. Big data will equip people with the information and tools to modify habits—be they diet, exercise or sleep— or their genes to optimize personal health. People’s health is already being impacted through the use of genomic medicine. This will be a huge area of change in the next decade. It is widely believed that in 10 years, genomes will cost less than USD$100 a piece and will take 15 min- utes. Innovative companies like Ama- zon, which employs a secretive group called Grand Challenge,5 are working on a series of bold projects involving cancer research, medical records and last-mile delivery of care, which will contribute even greater transformations using big data to make healthcare more intelligent or “smart.” CM: Do you have examples of implemen- tation and success? BO: Numerous examples exist. One is Express Scripts, which processes phar- maceutical claims. The company real- ized that those who most need to take their medications were also those most likely to forget to take them. So, Express Scripts created a new solution by using data and machines (e.g., beeping medi- cine caps) as well as automated phone calls reminding patients when it’s time to take the next dose. Earlier this year, Apple introduced a sig- nificant update to its Health app, debut- ing a feature for customers to see their medical records right on their iPhones. The updated “Health Records” section within the Health app brings together 13 healthcare systems and the existing app to make it easy for consumers to see their available medical data from mul- tiple providers whenever they choose. Johns Hopkins Medicine, Cedars-Sinai, Penn Medicine [University of Pennsyl- vania Health System] and other partici- pating hospitals and clinics are among the first to make this beta feature avail- able to their patients. CM: What are the challenges and oppor- tunities with smart technology? BO: As with all new technologies, there will be gaps between their promise and what happens in their initial intro- ductions. From the advent of commer- cial jet aircraft wherein several initial crashes stymied progress, to the recent and unfortunate mishaps with automat- ed vehicles resulting in loss of life, these near-term challenges will result in many who will bemoan the “success” of these solutions. With respect to older adults, there will likely be medical misdiagnosis from AI and data solutions that, in theory, a hu- man would not have missed. Adoption of technologies tends to take longer for older adults, as recent Pew Research has indicated. However, this lag of adop- tion from younger to older is starting to fade. I believe that as interfaces become easier and more intuitive to use, and technology become more like the air we breathe, the new paradigm will increas- ingly be the ability to benefit from these technologies without realizing they are there. Colin Milner is founder and CEO of the International Council on Active Aging®. A leading authority on the health and well-being of the older adult, Milner has been recognized by the World Economic Forum as one of “the most innovative and influential minds” in the world on aging- Continued on page 54 Among his roles, Bryan O’Rourke is chief strategic officer for Gold’s Gym Houston, a chain of six fitness clubs in Texas that, (l to r), O’Rourke owns with partners Bryan and Kristi Murphy. Image courtesy of Bryan K. O’Rourke
  6. 6. The Journal on Active Aging/Special technology issue 2018 www.icaa.cc54 related topics. The award-winning writer has more than 300 articles to his credit; he has also shared his perspectives with me- dia outlets such as CNN, BBC, Newsweek and Wall Street Journal. Milner’s inspir- ing and insightful speeches have stimulat- ed thousands of business and government leaders, industry professionals and older adults worldwide. References 1. Oxford Economics. (2016, September). The Longevity Economy: How People Over 50 Are Driving Economic and Social Value in the US. Washington, DC: AARP Research. dam/aarp/research/surveys_statistics/ econ/2017/2016-natl-longevity-economy. doi.10.26419%252Fres.00172.001.pdf 2. Consumer Technology Association. (2016, March). CTA Market Report: Active Aging. 2016/March/Active-Aging-Tech-Can-Help- 85-Million-Americans,-S.aspx 3. Matcher, E. (2016, July 7). Wired founder Kevin Kelly on the technologies that will dominate the future. Smithsonian Magazine. https:// founder-kevin-kelly-on-technologies-that-will- dominate-our-future-180959708 4. Ogilvy, J. (2017, March 30). The future ac- cording to ‘Wired’ editor Kevin Kelly. Global Affairs. [originally published at]. stratfor/2017/03/30/the-future-according-to- kevin-kelly/#37fc58b476bf 5. Kim, E. (2018, June 5). Inside Amazon’s Grand Challenge—a secretive lab working on cancer research and other ventures. CNBC. https:// challenge-moonshot-lab-google-glass-creator- babak-parviz.html Reso u rces Internet Bryan K. O’Rourke, MBA Fitness Industry Technology Council Internet–tech products and services Amazon Alexa Apple Health Apple Siri Apple Watch Doctor On Demand Express Scripts Google Assistant LifeBEAM’s Vi Sense AI personal trainer MagicLeap One Noom Oculus Go Pepper emea/en/robots/pepper Pokemon Go Replika Temi Woebot Multimedia Bidwell, M. (2016, June 14). “Kevin Kelly–The Formula for the Next 10,000 Startups, Failing Forward, And Becoming A Teaching Organisation.” In: How AI Will Shape the Future of Organisations, Season 1, Episode 18. The Innovation Ecosystem Podcast. Available at how-ai-technology-will-shape- future-organizations Print Kelly, K. (2016). The Inevitable. Understanding the 12 Technological Forces that Will Shape Our Future. New York, NY: Viking, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC Ogilvy, J. (2017, March 30). The future according to ‘Wired’ editor Kevin Kelly. Global Affairs. [originally published at]. Available at https://www.forbes. com/sites/stratfor/2017/03/30/ the-future-according-to-kevin- kelly/#37fc58b476bf ‘New era’solutions:Emerging technologies to improve quality of life Continued from page 52