What it is: Apple and IBM partnered up with Japan Post to use iPads and custom iOS apps to help Japan’s aging population.
In many developed countries, the population isn’t growing as fast as before. In Japan, that trend is particularly noticeable where close to 25% of Japan’s population is older. As the population in developed nations continues to age, that makes the aging population the largest market for any type of products.
That’s why Apple, IBM, and Japan Post have teamed up to create a health-oriented solution using iPads. Apple will supply the iPads, IBM will write the custom software, and Japan Post will distribute the iPads to Japan’s elderly population. By using the iPad, elderly Japanese citizens can get reminders and alerts about medications, exercise and diet, along with direct access to community activities and supporting services such as grocery shopping and job matching.
This pilot project will likely extend throughout Japan and the rest of the world as well. With an iPad, the elderly can maintain contact with others. japan Post ultimately hopes to reach 4 million to 5 million customers in Japan by 2020.
While iPads may be nice, they can be dropped or misplaced easily. That’s why the Apple Watch could potentially be another part of this solution. Wearable computers can insure that senior citizens don’t misplace it (as easily) and can provide constant feedback to others that the elderly person is still all right.
If an elderly person falls, the Apple Watch can detect that motion and immediately call for help. Since the Apple Watch can monitor heart beats, any irregular heart beat could send off a warning right away. Although Japan Post’s initial project involves iPads, it’s not hard to imagine the Apple Watch could become even more useful to monitor the elderly.
In either case, regular PCs are not the solution because they’re harder for many people to use and not as mobile. Health is one field that everyone on the planet cares about, so Japan Post’s project with Apple and IBM will give everyone more data on how effective iPads can be in helping Japan’s elderly. Then the companies can apply this knowledge to the elderly in other countries as well.
Health is the killer app that mobile and wearable computers offer. As the world’s population ages, you can be sure the elderly will need to rely on technology more and more. For many people, that requires reliable devices that are easy to use, and that’s why Apple believes health can be such a lucrative field now and in the long-term future.