What Would My Dad Think?

Tech executive Jack York finds the future ain't what it used to be.

Tech executive Jack York finds the future ain’t what it used to be.

Las Vegas—What would my Dad think? That’s what kept reverberating in my mind…what would my Dad think?I take off my smudged glasses, hand them delicately to a stranger standing in front of a vendor booth. He in turns, spins around, flicks a button, and a clear plastic hood lifts off a four-foot device that eerily resembles R2-D2. He puts my glasses into a holder, snaps the plastic hood back down, and now the fun begins. What is the purpose? Why have my glasses been willingly taken away and put into this chamber? It’s simple, it’s a glass cleaning machine. A $20,000 glass cleaning machine.

So welcome to CES, the Consumer Electronics Show, the place where the insanity of technology evolution is only matched by the insanity of Las Vegas. To put CES in perspective, a hugely successful AHCA conference draws about 8,000 people per year, but CES goes to a different level! Try this on for size: At CES there are over 153,000 attendees and 3,100 exhibitors…The overall floor space takes over approximately the size of 37 football fields—yikes!

The show touches everything electronics-related. All kinds of insane new car designs (be on the lookout for driverless cars!), innovations in audio and video technology, crazy robotics, new types of sensors for the home, virtual interactive gaming devices, preparing for the digital home of the future. And as you wander from booth to booth, you meet everyone from the savvy sophisticated executives from world-class conglomerates (Samsung, Sony, Phillips, Ford, etc.) to the fledging entrepreneurs from remote places in China trying to change the world with their one idea. CES is one-third Disneyland, one-third state fair, and one-third “The Jetsons.”

So what does all of this have to do with the world of Provider blog posts? Everything! When it comes to technology and senior living, most organizations are following each other down a conservative road map, starting with electronic medical records, therapy reimbursement software, tiptoeing into sensors, and maybe some resident-based technologies.

All appropriate things to do, but, oftentimes, decisions are made without thinking outside of the box. Organizations are watching each other. But smart organizations and individuals are staying attuned to what’s really happening on the cutting edge and creatively seeing how the big-picture world of electronics can seamlessly fit into the ever-changing dynamics of health care.

Look at a few things that are out there from CES:

  • How about a virtual reality experience where Grandpa climbs on the tractor he grew up on and harvests some wheat?
  • Maybe a toothbrush that tells you via your smartphone how “well” you brushed?
  • Wearable technologies are everywhere!
  • Let’s Skype your granddaughter with a 105-inch bendable curved display screen.
  • Driving in a few years will be a totally immersive experience:
  • Look at where tablets are heading
  • This is something we’re looking at for It’s Never 2 Late—integrating our interface with sensors to create a clinical rehab intervention like therapy post-stroke.
  • Watch some AARP folks cruising around CES.

What I like about CES is the pragmatic mindset of commercialization dealing with appropriate price points. Over the years, I’ve attended dozens of conferences dealing with various types of adaptive technology and software/hardware solutions—the problem: price points. It’s great to see technologies that can change people’s lives, but if no one can afford them, what’s the point? It’s a tough line to walk, but the very definition of “consumer” electronics means you’re trying to reach the masses; that means the price points matter.

So my recommendation for any of you technophiles, or even technophobes, is to get CES on your bucket list. It’s a no-lose proposition. You’ll find things that benefit yourself, benefit the elders many of you serve, benefit people you love, whether it be your grandkids or your mother-in-law. And you can instantly become hip to your own kids. The one catch is that you do need to have a solid connection to the technology industry to attend; the CES website can provide more details.

So back to my Dad, and my glasses. The machine is actually very cool. It’s a miniature car wash, moving from a prewash to a wash to a rinse to a blow-dry cycle, each segment taking about 45 seconds. And in true entrepreneurial spirit, you’re a captive audience. You can’t see except for what’s right in front of you—R2-D2 has a 15” TV monitor playing various ads—that’s the business model behind the whole operation. It’s one of the thousands of experiences you would never think of, but once you see, it actually makes sense. Check it out.

The times they are a changing. Get ahead of the curve and change your perspective: Your residents will thank you for it.

Today’s guest blog is written by Jack York, founder of It’s Never Too Late.

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