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New Project Will Research Sleep and Activity Trackers for Older People

New Project Will Research Sleep and Activity Trackers for Older People
AARP, Unitedhealthcare and Pfizer are teaming up to see how new technologies can be improved for older populations. 

Arundhati Parmar

New technology use and adoption is often correlated with youth.

And yet, that focus on youth may be misplaced given that the United States has an aging population. By 2030, there will be about 72.1 million people who are 65 and older. That is more than twice their number in 2000, according to the Administration on Aging. In 2000, the 65-plus crowd represented 12.4% of the population, but is expected to grow to be 19% of the population by 2030. 

So knowing how technology works for older Americans, especially as it relates to health and wellness, is important. A new project aims to fill in some of the gaps in this respect. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) announced Monday that it is launching Project Catalyst to see how well sleep and fitness trackers work for people who are older than 50.

The study, to be done in partnership with insurance giant Unitedhealthcare and Pfizer are first in a series of studies that AARP plans to conduct to catalyze tech innovation for older Americans.

The study will kick of with 80 users — all above 50 — who will evaluate five sleep and activity trackers over a 6-week period, Researchers at Georgia Tech Research Institute, which is conducting the study will not rank these trackers but simply gather data to see how participants are using the product and whether there are any barriers to user engagement that could be improved.

The findings of the study will be shared with product developers and can be obtained publicly in June.

“With the 50-plus population representing a large portion of the patients who depend on our medicines, we recognize the importance of finding innovative solutions to challenges such as medication management and adherence,” said Wendy Mayer, vice president, Worldwide Innovation, Pfizer, in the AARP news release. “Project Catalyst has potential to enable collaboration across multiple stakeholder groups with the common goal of delivering the best value, and we look forward to continuing our longtime partnership with AARP.”

Using wearables and activity trackers to glean information is something that other partnerships are also examining. 

In August last year, Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research announced it was teaming up with Intel to research how wearables and Big Data can improve Parkinson's Disease monitoring. 

Arundhati Parmar is senior editor at MD+DI. Reach her at [email protected] and on Twitter @aparmarbb 

[Photo Credit - iStockphoto.com user franckreporter]

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