My recent blog post Call For Thought Leaders: Who is Changing Aging? generated an amazing response. You can read a great list of suggestions in the comments section and I received numerous names via email I plan to feature on the blog.
People continue to contact me after stumbling across this post and I want to keep the conversation going. Today I’m launching a series of profiles of thought leaders who are changing aging, beginning with technology entrepreneur Iggy Fanlo, co-founder and CEO of Lively, a startup company designed to enhance social connections between generations.
This week Lively launched a KickStarter campaign to generate pre-orders for their product, which is a non-invasive monitoring device that tracks the normal activities and routines of older adults living alone and shares mobile updates with people they choose. The monitoring is paired with a service called LivelyGram that allows younger generations or family members to upload photos and messages that are automatically turned into printed mailers sent to elder’s mailbox. In both cases the focus is on fostering connectivity between generations.
This element is what got my attention. There are and have been numerous products available to keep tabs on or help older adults “age-in-place,” going back all the way to LifeAlert’s horrible commercials “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” Today’s remote sensors are much more sophisticated and can gather data on people’s living habits in order to alert family members when it appears an elder has stopped opening the refrigerator, is missing medication or hasn’t left the house.
Lively’s monitoring devices do report on basic activities like this. But if that was all it did, ChangingAging would not bother highlighting it. What intrigued me was the vision of co-founder Iggy Fanlo, who didn’t want to create a product based on exploiting people’s fears but rather on enhancing their connectivity.
The point of Lively is not as an emergency response tool to monitor critical medical issues, Fanlo explained in a phone conversation from his office in San Francisco. Lively is designed to provide peace of mind for loved-ones of older adults living alone, help those elders live independently and create a better way for younger generations to connect with their elders. The goal is as basic as getting rid of pestering check-ins and replacing them with more satisfying and meaningful conversations, Fanlo said.
“Studies show once adult children don’t have to ask nagging questions the conversation changes dramatically,” Fanlo said. “Lively’s approach leads to more dignified and meaningful conversations between older adults who live on their own and their loved ones by enabling everyone to focus on what’s really important: ‘how’ they’re feeling and ‘what’ they’re doing, rather than ‘did they take their meds’ or ‘did they drink enough water today.’”
Fanlo has come full circle as a pre-med engineering graduate of Princeton University headed towards a career in healthcare, detouring into finance and internet advertising before finding his calling in tech startups, with his latest project, Lively, back in the health care sector.
After leaving his last startup company, adBrite, Fanlo sought advice from a long time mentor who encourage him to look for opportunities to innovate in health technology. After some investigation, Fanlo decided the aging sector of health tech was ripe for innovation.
“The aging space in tech innovation specifically jumped out at me as someplace where technology has failed to improve the lives of adults,” Fanlo said.
Many products on the market today targeting older adults living alone use fear as a selling tactic, addressing potential mishaps or focusing on emergency response, Fanlo said.
“We believe older adults and their extended family miss and crave deeper connections with each other,” Fanlo said. “We set out to create a connections company and if Lively helps enhance connections between people than we’re doing something right.”
You can learn more about Lively in the video below. What do you think? If you’re an elder living alone would you want your family members keeping tabs on you like this? Also, I’m interested in getting recommendations for other innovative products or services that our readers think are “changing aging.”