Jack Uldrich
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Aging is No Game

Posted in Health Care


It’s now a well accepted fact that the Wii video games are very popular among seniors. Less well appreciated is now games—and specifically video games—will revolutionize the actions and behaviors of seniors in the near future. Posted below for your viewing pleasure is an extraordinarily insightful presentation from Jesse Schell, a professor at Carnegie Mellon and a video game designer himself. I specifically encourage you to watch the last ten minutes of his talk where he discusses how the proliferation of sensors, cheap computer and camera technology and what I call a “video game mind-set” will converge to change people’s behavior in some interesting and unexpected ways.

For example, if your cellphone’s accelerometer monitor how much and how fast you walk can daily exercise be turned into a game. If your grandfather can then compare this exercise performance with that of his friend the two can engage in a healthy competition that will benefit both.

What if the camera on the cellphone can also monitor what items your grandfather purchases at the store. How might this eating habits improve. The same is true with using technology to determine whether he’s taking his drugs at the right time and in the right amount.

The possibilities are virtually limitless. As sensors become to be embedded in shirts suddenly not only can the quantity of exercise be monitored but the quality as well by awarding him points for maintaining his heart rate above a certain level every day. If he does it for 5 out of 7 days in a week, he could be awarded additional points.

It might sound slightly silly but I’m convinced that as sensors come to be embedded in everything from carpets and shoes to pill bottles and pop bottles, the technology is going to be employed in innovative and creative ways which can improve the quality of people’s lives. The only question is whether the aging services facilities around this country will be proactive in engaging in this revolution.

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