Where some people see old age, Stever Aubrey sees opportunity. The founder and chief executive of Dovetail Health in Needham believes he has tapped into a huge market by offering in-home care management combined with easy-to-use technology to help minimize medication errors and falls, and monitor chronic illnesses. The gold standard for the new tech of old age is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's AgeLab in Cambridge, but Aubrey's firm is one of the hundreds of New England companies that are chasing the 50-plus population, the fastest-growing segment worldwide.
"Safety, health and wellness, and social connectedness: These are the products and service niches that are springing up as corporations work to meet the demand of older consumers and their caregivers," says Majd Alwan, director of the Center for Aging Services Technologies, a Washington, D.C., industry association.
In Massachusetts, FitSense Technology in Southborough offers wireless health-monitoring devices. Minimally invasive knee implants help keep seniors mobile, thanks to a software-enabled design created by ConforMIS in Burlington. Other endeavors are scattered around the state, from monitors that allow patients to videoconference with doctors (BL Healthcare in Foxborough) to personal medical alert systems (Philips Lifeline in Framingham).
Makers of appliances, cars, and cellphones and other consumer electronics also are studying the evolving needs and tastes of boomers. "It's the new frontier of business," says MIT AgeLab founder Joseph Coughlin.