Technologies attacking the golden age

Has ending your days peacefully in a senior living facility ever been an ideal life choice? Two years of COVID has certainly convinced many people that it is better to live independently at home for as long as possible. This is an incredible vein for the technology sector, which sees the next big growth vector in this globally expressed desire.

Enemy detection with artificial intelligence, psychotherapy in virtual reality, financial arrangements for a longer-than-expected retirement… It’s all on the table, sometimes even below. Urine tests for the house slide down the toilet bowl are also part of this portrait…

In 2023, we can say that the connected house will be multi-generational or not. Those of you who already have too many sensors in your car will jump to the ceiling when you see all the sensors we want to install in the homes of our elders in the coming years. The industry has recognized the need for an entire population to stay as far away as possible from senior housing and other retirement housing.

The average age of the population is increasing all over the planet. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that by 2050, the number of people on Earth aged 60 or over will double, numbering 2.1 billion heads – mostly silver, as the number of octogenarians triples to 426 will reach a million.

All of these people have a strong desire for extensive autonomy. They represent very attractive customers for tomorrow’s technologies.

This movement already has a name: “agetech”. Technologies of the Golden Age. The business potential is huge, and simply put: exponential growth in healthcare costs can be slowed with a smart mix of electronics, software and artificial intelligence.

The Golden Age of Technology

Golden Age technologies live up to their name not once, but twice. Some will actually sell for the price of gold. Because aging issues affect all wallets: the wallets of government, businesses and individuals.

These technologies go far beyond gadgets: telemedicine, personal finance, training, recruitment and… the metaverse. On the medical side, we see promising virtual reality applications that help combat isolation or minimize the effects of certain mental disorders.

Aware of these developments, the federal departments of Health and Innovation, Science and Economic Development announced last month a $47 million investment in a pan-Canadian network of companies and research centers led by two specialized consortia, MEDTEQ+ and Age-Well.

In announcing the investment, Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said he wants Canadians to age at home for as long as possible. “They will need quality care. Projects like MEDTEQ+ are using technology to help Canadians age better at home. They are also improving the quality of healthcare services offered to our aging population through health data and digital health applications. »

AgeTech Capital

Whatever the minister says, Canada is lagging behind this technological trend. But it suits local businessmen hoping to create a specialized business ecosystem here.

Pascale Audette, Lyne Landry and Alan MacIntosh are three investment and technology veterans who launched the investment fund AgeTech Capital in Montreal this summer. Their goal: to raise US$250 million (about C$330 million) to support companies starting commercial growth in the form of Series A investments, as the jargon calls it.

“Seniors are becoming the largest demographic in Canada, and they’re also the most technology-savvy,” says Alan MacIntosh. “There is also post-pandemic momentum towards these technologies,” adds Pascale Audette. “It’s a great business opportunity because we’re talking about aging for a long time, but big funds like ours don’t exist yet to drive growth in Canada. »

AgeTech Capital says there are already at least 140 companies in the sector in Canada, including about 40 in Quebec. They touch on everything from solutions for living independently longer, to support for healthcare providers, health and the financial aspect of living an active life that is often longer than expected.

The venture capital sector is depressed by the current economic context, but is still very much attracted to emerging technologies, assures Lyne Landry. “It fits well with the letter ‘S’ of ESG criteria [environnement, société, gouvernance]and this is of great interest to mainstream institutions,” he says.

Timely techno

The aging of the population is beginning to seriously concern the entire planet. In particular, the WHO fears that if no action is taken, injuries sustained by people aged 65 and over will soon cost the global economy $320 billion annually.

Not surprisingly, preventing accidents like falls suddenly became a priority for many startups. Belgian manufacturer Nobi is one of them. In early January, it introduced a connected living room lamp equipped with cameras that track the gestures of people in the room. If a body falls to the ground, a voice asks whether to call for help.

Sensors detect irregular breathing and signal a heart problem. Others analyze more than 300 health indicators in urine from the toilet at home. The key to the success of these gadgets: to intervene as soon as possible to save a life.

“An elderly person enters the hospital after an accident every 11 seconds. An elderly person dies every 19 minutes due to such a fall. This risk only increases with age,” concludes Roeland Pelgrims, co-founder of Nobi. However, its connected bulb won’t come cheap: equipping an “average” home will cost either $3,000 or $160 a month. This is no ordinary IKEA lamp…

As they say, health is priceless… But living old and healthy is worth gold!

To see in the video

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