The aging of our population is presenting exciting new business opportunities.  Innovative technologies for our homes will be increasingly important in helping us retain independence as we age.  One Canadian company based out of Vancouver – www.clarishealthcare.com has recently released a new technology device, the Claris Companion.  According to their website it:

“… makes it easy to communicate with aging parents and keep track of their well-being”

            It’s a tablet device that is ergonomically designed for an older population, providing applications that emphasize safety and communications.  The device makes it easy for those who may have health challenges such as poor eye-sight, arthritic hands, hearing deficits or cognitive design to remain in contact with friends and family.  Seniors’ isolation is a concern for a frail population and the device should help to reduce this risk as well as serve as an early alert system for health issues.

I think Claris has done many things right including:

  1. Designing a clean and simple looking devices
  2. Providing a sturdy stand & big buttons/keys
  3. Bamboo frame – a readily renewable raw product
  4. Blocking financial scams (although I’m unclear how this is done)
  5. Blocking computer viruses and malware (although I’m unclear how this is done since there always seems to be new threats emerging)
  6. Providing applications for key risk areas such as medication and event reminders, heath change alerts, video chatting and photo filing.

Here’s some of what I think needs improving:

  1. The device should lock it to a table or some larger object, but still be adjustable  – especially for those who live in shared environments or frequently have care workers in their homes.
  2. Integration with existing emergency alert systems.
  3. Improved target marketing instead of the current broad approach targeting ‘older adults’ and ‘seniors’.   The press release was very good at describing the market need:  http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/-1787644.htm.  Use these points to clarify the target customer.  For example:
    • A socially isolated older-person
    • A senior failing to adhere to medication schedule
    • A senior experiencing confusion or limited physical function
  4.  Improved product positioning.  Inevitably the product will be compared to tablets and other devices currently in the marketplace.  It’s important that Claris clarify the value their product adds to a market that does not have access to suitable technology but has a need (i.e. social isolation).  Otherwise they risk accusations of ‘dumbing down’ technology for seniors and ageism such as http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-57583229-1/friendly-new-tablet-designed-for-tech-wary-seniors/.
  5. Better leverage social media.  The target buyer for this device is the baby-boomer family member concerned about their older family member.  Target them exhaustively through Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
  6. The device name is passive and somewhat condescending.  The device extends autonomy and control and a name should reflect this.
  7. The tag line is vague (…keeps track of their well-being).  Show how the device empowers the older person.  Consider changing the tag line to something like …let’s you better manage your daily activities and keeps those who care about you up-to-date.

Based on the information I’ve read on the internet the two co-owners are very respectful of the challenges faced by some aging adults.  They are pursuing a growing and important business opportunity.  Keep innovating Claris Health Care!