CABHI’s “Community of Innovation” Podcast Recap: Everything You Wanted to Know About Technology and the Future of Aging

By Mark Ogilbee posted 10-27-2022 10:32 PM


The Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation (CABHI), an AgeTech Collaborative™ enterprise participant, hosts a podcast called “Community of Innovation.” A recent episode spotlights a panel discussion from the CABHI Summit 2022, "Everything You Wanted to Know About Technology and the Future of Aging.”  

Hosted by CABHI President and Chief Scientist Dr. Allison Sekuler, the panel included Sasha Spellman, AARP Innovation Labs’ director of startup collaboration, along with Dr. Alex Mihailidis (of AGE-WELL), Dr. David Lindeman (of CITRIS and the Banatao Institute), and Erica Lloyd (of Soul Machines). A unique participant was a “digital person” named Clara, who emceed the panel. 

Sekuler opened by asking the panelists about the single piece of AgeTech technology they’re most excited about.  

Using Clara — the digital person who introduced the panelists — as an example, Lloyd explained that people can have personalized conversations about health, behavioral changes and more with a “digital workforce,” which can connect directly to hospital patient management systems. Spellman highlighted two AgeTech Collaborative™ participants: ianacare, which provides support and a care-coordination platform for caregivers; and Tellus, which uses remote monitoring to analyze and predict health outcomes of users.  

Lindeman noted how the pandemic supercharged the behind-the-scenes data analytics that drive AgeTech solutions in ways that weren’t possible just a few years ago. Mihailidis echoed that, pointing out that predictive AI is a hot area of study, and the AgeTech space is getting the attention of quantum computing engineers. 

These are all interesting technologies, Sekuler noted, but how can we ensure that they address concerns about equity, privacy and other issues? 

Lloyd cautioned that the next wave of technology needs to learn lessons from past mistakes and take a step back. She also noted that using human-centered design, then humanizing the technology to be more responsive — in the form of digital people, for example — empowers end users to take more control of their data, as well as their health care decisions.  

Spellman reiterated how important human-centered design is for startups: Using it to test and validate their solutions keeps them focused on the everyday user and their needs, rather than becoming fixated on selling into some future partnership. 

Lindeman said that it’s critical to train the next generation of engineers, scientists and clinicians to make sure they approach issues of privacy, security and the potential misuse of tech with thoughtfulness. Mihailidis emphasized the need for taking a global perspective to make sure innovators take into account cultural, ethnic and other differences that occur in various contexts. 

The panelists also weighed in on how the emerging developments in AgeTech that we’re seeing today will be felt a decade or two down the road.  

Spellman hopes caregivers will be less burdened by day-to-day tasks so they can focus on providing comforting companionship. This is especially critical as the caregiver shortage crisis will only intensify as we approach 2050. Mihailidis envisions a world where there is no “AgeTech” per se, but instead a more thoroughly integrated, cradle-to-grave technological ecosystem that adapts with people as they age. Similarly, Lindeman sees a world where age-friendly technology is ubiquitous, but only if inequities such as unequal access to broadband are deliberately addressed. 

Sekuler wrapped up the panel by asking each panelist to use a single word to describe the future of aging and technology.  

Lloyd sees the future as “empathetic,” as AgeTech must continue to focus on people as individuals, not as numbers or a generic demographic, so people can take control of their own lives and health. Mihailidis is “cautiously optimistic” that AgeTech innovators will continue to do great work as long as they focus on the people they are serving and their actual needs. Spellman believes everyone having a “choice” in how they live will remain a critical factor in the space as technologies advance. And Lindeman thinks AgeTech technology is still “nascent,” and that as it is increasingly applied and integrated it will be transformative for the way older adults live and society functions as a whole. 


You can listen to the entire podcast on CABHI’s website.