The Art of Possible from Aging 2.0 OPTIMIZE

KareInn is a company with core values that focus on “improving the quality of life for our parents’ generation”. We align ourselves with other organisations with similar values and, therefore, are proud to be the UK Ambassador to Aging 2.0.  Aging 2.0 is a global innovation network that is “accelerating innovation to improve the lives of older adults around the World.  

Aging 2.0 holds an annual conference in San Francisco that puts on an impressive display of the latest ageing related ideas, design and technology.  This year’s conference, OPTIMIZE, was held 12-14 October.  We attended this year's conference and came away inspired by the breadth of the ideas, energy and positivity.

OPTIMIZE ideas were organised along four key ageing themes - Mind; Independence; Care; and Mobility.  The themes were based in research from across the globe. The presentations started with “A Field Guide to Exponential Thinking” by Pascal Finette, VP of Singularity University that challenged organisations to embrace the accelerating pace of change. Susan Mende, of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation presented findings from global culture of health research.  It’s important to note that ideas went beyond creating new technology.  Design was a key idea that cut across all four themes.  

Solutions for our ageing population were challenged to become “smart, well-designed, stylish products” (see Aging 2.0 Global Startup Search video filmed of Health Innovators TV in June for background). To encourage companies to look beyond the current “longevity” industry for design inspiration, Aging 2.0 assembled an impressive series of presenters from clothing, travel and leisure industries.  Adam Glickman, Head of Even Hotels, talked about their award winning focus on design and how they incorporated wellness into every aspect of the brand experience.  Rudy Magna from Under Armour described their commitment to serving customers via their impressive investment in connected fitness.  Gabriela Gonzalez leads Guest Technology and Analytics for Carnival Cruise Line and explained their “ageless” approach to designing the end-to-end experience for their customers.

The emphasis on design resonates with KareInn. Our customers deliver “people centred care”, KareInn delivers “people centred design.  Our focus on design translates into productivity gains for our customers' carers (1,000 extra hours in the average care home) and better insights into the lives of their residents for which they care (recording 5x more data).  During the conference, KareInn’s design related message on Twitter won the conference's Best Tweet of the Day - "Not build it and they will come but build with older people and they are already there!".

What San Francisco conference would not be complete without technology?  OPTIMIZE had more than it’s fair share of technology on display but the event went beyond a display hardware and software.  Textiles, fitness equipment, and furniture design were also on show.  There was also another presentation from Google regarding driverless cars and it's importance for the independence of older people.  However, for me, the really interesting technology on display related to data visualisation solutions.  Adam Gazzaley, USCF Professor, presented an incredible 3D visualisation of the human brain in action with closed feedback loops.  Here is a video of similar presentation he gave earlier in 2016.

Given the steady diet of bad news in UK care industry, it was refreshing to be in California to breathe-in the positive, optimistic atmosphere that permeates the US start-up scene. The very first event of Aging 2.0's OPTIMIZE for global ambassadors was hosted within the headquarters of Lyft, a competitor to Uber and a “unicorn” in its own right - as of February 2016, the company was worth $5.5B. Lyft created a separate group to focus on mobility for older people and is very positive about the future of the “silver economy”, as is the US investment community. Arnold Whitman, Partner at Generator Ventures and Chairman of Formation Capital, spoke about their excitement and commitment to the industry.

The whole experience was inspiring.  The ideas were “exponential”, the technology was truly impressive and positivity was infectious. The importance of design and the emphasis on including older people in the design process is a key take-away for any founder wanting to make meaningful impact with their solutions.  It is easy to say but it is surprising to find how many companies experience it hard to do or completely forget to do it.  KareInn believes customer co-design is fundamental. It was great to be at Aging 2.0’s OPTIMIZE conference where one can see and experience the “Art of the possible” from within the industry in addition to what can be learned from the incredible work is being done outside the industry.

Eric.