Wall-E and The End of Work

EDITOR’S NOTE:  I’m reposting this article with new information from a U.N. report that warns countries to prepare for the day when technology, automation, and artificial intelligence replaces jobs. They expect 75% of the world population to become unemployable, and that day is coming sooner than most people realize. It will have immense social consequences.

Wall-E is a fun & warm-hearted animated movie by Pixar that also warns against ignoring environmental pollution and the obesity epidemic. It presents future humans as super-obese couch potatoes living in a robot & technology-dominated world set some 700 years in the future. By then, mankind had so completely trashed Earth’s environment that humans were forced to relocate to spaceships and evolved into large, floating fat blobs – the Axioms.

But the future doesn’t have to be as foretold. We learned that from the classic movie, A Christmas Carol. By knowing the risks of possible futures that our current behavior may take us to, we can change. We can change course to save the environment, improve our health & well being, and find solutions to wide unemployment.

I hope you enjoy the video clips below, as well as the additional links and discussion that follows.

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Interoperability in a Connected World

Can’t We All Just Get Along? Interoperability in a Connected World
was first published in CABA iHomes and Buildings.

By Lee Gruenfeld, Autumn 2016

The lack of Interoperability in a Connected World keeps Home Automation from reaching its potential.

Mark Moz, Creative Commons license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

“Can’t we all just get along?” The answer to that question about interoperability in a connected world is unfortunately, “No.”

Sorry. Wish I had better news. But there are some very good reasons why the ideal of everything in the Internet of Things blithely communicating with all the other things isn’t going to happen, at least not in the next few years, and not smoothly if it ever does. Read More …

Home Automation Shows Promise for Seniors, but HomeKit Isn’t the Answer – Yet

By Beth Kelly

Home automation has been a mixed blessing for senior citizens and those who provide their care. Individual assistive technologies and comprehensive smart home “ecosystems” are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and they’re more capable than ever of understanding older user’s needs and capabilities.

The development of comprehensive home technology platforms – such as Apple’s HomeKit and Google’s Home – has accelerated hopes that technology’s role in senior care will continue to make rapidly meaningful strides, via the ever-widening Internet of Things (IoT).

Smart Home applications of IoT

Integrating Disparate Subsystems

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Benefits and Risks of Artificial Intelligence

This image represents Artificial Intelligence, a digital mind that can learn and act on its own. According to a recent article in MedicalFuturist.com, artificial intelligence (AI) will redesign health care with unimaginable potential. The author sees great benefits, and so do I, but he dispels the risks – risks that visionaries like Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Stephen Hawking warn against. They warn that full development of AI could spell the end of the human race, and I share that concern. That’s why I’m writing today’s article with a cautionary tone.

The accelerating pace of change

At issue is whether or not man will find ways to guard against the dangers of tech innovation accelerating exponentially and indefinitely. The questions start with, what will AI, automation and robotics eventually do to employment? Which jobs will be replaced first, and which are safe for now? What might AI do for (or to) government? I don’t share the author’s confidence and instead side with the visionaries. Here’s why. Read More …

The Smart Home Mess

The networking Tower of Babel contributes to the Smart Home Mess.

I often write about Smart Home technologies that can help seniors or people with disabilities live independently and safely at home, but I also criticize the media and marketers for their excessive hype and for ignoring the smart home mess.

The Smart Home Mess

Today’s posting is my response to, an excellent article by Stacey Higginbotham, published yesterday in FORBES.

The most insightful quote from this article is, “The smart home, for better or worse, is an ecosystem. And so far, most companies are trying to make it a platform.”

MY COMMENT: Even a SMART Home ecosystem, if it targets DIY consumers, is not very smart and will likely fail to reach mass market adoption. That’s because it puts Consumer’s in the role of systems integrator, in a complex ecosystem with competing standards and retail confusion. Read More …

Digital Health at CES 2016

Digital Health at CES

EDITOR:  The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is one of the largest trade shows and conferences in the world, with well over 150,000 attendees, including more than 30,000 international attendees from 140 countries. Each January they come to Las Vegas, NV to see the latest tech products from over 3,000 exhibitors or showcase their own. Nowhere else on earth can you see and experience so much in such a short space of time. That’s why I love attending, but now I do it without the expense and hassle of traveling there.

For background, I’ve attended big technology shows like COMDEX & CES as an exhibitor, speaker or attendee for some 30 years, and while still at IBM I organized one of the first Hot Spots (now TechZones). It was for Home Networking just after I introduced IBM to the Connected Home concept (in 1994) and while I held leadership positions in some industry standards groups.

My CES coverage starts with an article by Jane Sarasohn-Kahn about what to expect, which first appeared in Huffington Post. It’s followed by links to Related Articles that you won’t want to miss if you’re a tech geek like me. Read More …

Healthcare Robots – a growing collection

Google"s Robot?With arguably the largest aging population relative to its total, Japan leads the world in the production of healthcare robots as a way to cope with the growing need for eldercare and shrinking numbers of working people left to give that care. It’s not surprising that many of the robots featured in this collection originate from Japan.

Below are dozens of robot images, followed by images representing 8 videos that you can watch by clicking on each image. The list of related articles will expand over time as we discover new and interesting articles on robots. Comment below if you find one you’d like to share. Read More …

How Technology is Changing Home Security

By Janet Miller, Yoga Instructor, Nutritionist, and Work at Home Mom

EDITOR: Janet wrote the following article for Huffington Post (see original), presented here with my additional insights and recommendations. 

Surveillance Cameras are Changing Home Security

7 Ways Technology is Changing Home Security

Technology has radically changed the way we protect our homes. What was previously only possible in Sci-Fi movies is now gradually becoming reality. The digital revolution has made its way into our homes.

1. Remote Monitoring: Remote monitoring is a great way to keep an eye on the home when you are at school or work, or on your second home. Even if you are vacationing on a beach miles away, you can still receive real time videos and photos of what is going on at home. Some of the features monitoring systems now provide include the ability to arm and disarm security systems, send fire or intrusion alerts, and stream security camera feeds. Read More …

20-20 Vision of Digital Life in 2025

Pew Research Center recently published its vision of Digital Life in 2025, based on predictions from over 1,000 experts who generally said the Internet would become “like electricity” – more deeply embedded in our lives but less visible.

Word Cloud - Pew Research examines Digital Life in 2025

Before I present the top 15 themes from the Pew report, here’s my own Back to the Future vision of technology and and its impact & challenges, based on an article I wrote 11 years ago. It looked back 20 years to George Orwell’s 1984 and then forward 20 to the year 2024, and I present it here because it’s helpful to see a history of where things have come from as you contemplate the future. Futurists, however, will tell you that forecasting is not as simple as just extrapolating trends. Read More …

Home Renovations that can Save the Estate

Jack and Jill, a Mother Goose nursery rhyme

Jack and Jill went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water.
Jack fell down and broke his crown,
And Jill came tumbling after.

Up Jack got, and home did trot,
As fast as he could caper,
To old Dame Dob, who patched his nob
With vinegar and brown paper.

By Wayne Caswell

Scenario ONE

Jack and Jill were in their late 60s and had been married for 37 years when Jack suffered a severe stroke and required care beyond the abilities of his partner. After leaving the hospital, he went into a nursing home, and the family home was sold to pay for his care, which was expensive and projected exceed $84,000 per year.

Jill couldn’t maintain the big house herself and couldn’t afford it either, so she moved into a small apartment alone, without her lifelong mate. Being separated affected the couple’s morale, but worse was that it affected their health and their finances. Without long-term-care insurance, their life savings were depleted quickly before Medicaid finally kicked in. And now the grown children had two places to visit to support their declining parents. It didn’t have to be that way.

Scenario TWO

Just as in the nursery rhyme, Jack goes home and recovers more quickly there – in familiar and loving surroundings where Jane hires professionals to help care for him. That decision lets the couple stay together, and the kids have just one place to visit.

Universal Design was not offered when they built their home, and even though renovating the home for wheelchair accessibility often costs as much as $50,000, they felt it was financially better than the alternative. The project was entirely funded with home equity, so they didn’t even have to touch their retirement money, or the kid’s future inheritance. You see, Jack and Jill are like most American seniors, 90% of whom would rather live at home as long as possible and are willing to seek help to do that.

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The Trouble with Home Automation at Retail

I’m sharing a link to a detailed article on home automation because of how this technology can simplify aging-in-place. It has some good analysis of the different product platforms and the retailers promoting them.

Target, Sears and the Trouble with Home Automation at Retail

Sears Connected Solutions: flagship home automation experience center in San Bruno, Calif. (CLICK IMAGE to view slide show)

By Julie Jacobson, CE Pro Magazine

Target and Sears build impressive showcases for home automation, but the breadth of offerings and confusion around ‘smart home hubs’ expose inherent flaws of retail IoT channel.

… It seems every major brick-and-mortar retailer has gotten into the IoT business in the past year or two, usually with flagship home automation launch partners – Home Depot (Revolv and Wink), Best Buy (Peq), Staples (Connect), Lowe’s (Iris) and to a sad degree Walmart.

Amazon established its online home automation shop in 2013, which brings us to the Sears smart-home initiative. … (MORE)

My Comment (directed at industry professionals)

I’ve known Julie Jacobson for years, think of her as a true expert in this field, and loved her in-depth analysis in this article. I’ll be sure to link to it in comments on some of my own articles, including http://www.mhealthtalk.com/elusive-smart-home/. Read More …

Be Secure Again with Home Security and Automation

Home Security Compromised

Secure Again — Elliot Caleira’s Story

I thought I heard something moving outside. Grover, my dog, makes noises out there often because he loves hunting squirrels and running through bushes. But this sound was more subtle and disturbing. I called out to Grover, and he came running, but the noise continued.

At the time, I didn’t have a security system and had no way to know if my door was locked without walking to the door. The noise scared me so much that I called 9-1-1 as I walked, and when I got to the door, I dropped the phone. Standing outside was a tall man with a black hat and baggy t-shirt with what looked like a weapon poking out of his pants pocket. I was terrified and felt I couldn’t breathe, yet alone move. Read More …

Caretakers harness the Internet of Things

What Caretakers Can Do RIGHT NOW to Harness the Power of the Internet of Things

By Beth Kelly

SThe Internet of Thingsocial technology and home automation have moved upstream. According to the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, nearly one-third of seniors own a tablet or e-book reader. Almost 50 percent of seniors own high-speed Internet access and browse the Web at least 3-5 times per week.

These typing, Skyping, texting seniors are the next beneficiaries of the Internet of things (IoT), the growing network of WiFi-enabled appliances, wearable sensors, automated security systems and other connected devices. For instance, researchers at UCLA are investigating how to use WearSens, a piezoelectric necklace, to remotely monitor breathing patterns of recovering surgery patients. BrainAid offers the PEAT smartphone app to help seniors with memory loss live independently with scheduling assistance.

The revolution is now. Here’s how to get involved. Read More …

How to Make a Smart Bed for your Smart Bedroom

Luna

Here’s you can make a smart bed for your smart bedroom.

Because good sleep so closely tied to good health, I’ve posted dozens of articles about sleep, including many about technology and how artificial lights interfere with our biological clocks and sleep-wake cycle. I’ve also been working with Dr. Bruce Meleski to open Intelligent Sleep, a new sleep wellness and brain health center here in Austin. We’re doing some pretty cool stuff with metabolic, neurosensory, and behavioral therapies, and we’re promoting a vision of the Smart Bedroom. So today’s post is about a new product we hope to carry and that I think you’ll like. (video below) Read More …

How to Create a Safe and Stylish Home

How to Create a Safe and Stylish Home

With age comes wisdom, and thankfully, retirement. As you move from the hectic life of work and obligations to a home-centric life of leisure, you may need to take a look at the details of your home, particularly safety. Look to create a safer haven for you to age in, but don’t forget about style. There are several interior design tricks you can add to make sure you are protected without feeling like you’re restricted. Here are just a few areas to think about:  Read More …

The Elusive Smart Home

With the annual Consumer Electronics Show starting next week, the news media is filled with marketing hype about the elusive Smart Home market, which is nearly as misdirected today as it was in 1957. Watch this video of the RCA-Whirlpool® Miracle Kitchen and ask how many of those products you can buy today.

Whirlpool was wrong 58 years ago when it introduced its Miracle Kitchen, and I think it’s wrong about home automation today too. All the company did was offer a Smart Home vision that never crossed the chasm to mass-market adoption. The problem wasn’t a lack of sensors, actuators, electronics, or network standards, but marketing and the inability to understand consumer needs and wants, or the ability to show a value proposition or deliver a solution with ease of use and affordability.

I still have seen no company that “gets it” or knows how to deliver the smart home vision — not Whirlpool and not Apple or Microsoft or Google or Philips or BestBuy. A lot of innovation has occurred in the last 50-some years that is getting us closer to that vision, including smartphones and the Internet of Things, but there are still many marketing barriers that these companies don’t seem to understand. Read More …

Cars for seniors who can’t drive themselves

Google's Driverless Car

EDITOR: When seniors can no longer drive a car, they lose their independence and become dependent on others for the simplest things — shopping for groceries or Christmas gifts, getting a haircut, going the bank or doctor or the movies, and more. That can be devastating and even force them into institution care, ultimately shortening their lifespan. So it’s why I’m a fan of the autonomous, self-driving car, and Google, the company that’s so far leading the way. And it’s why I’m happy to republish this article by Zachary Shahan at FIX.com about cars for seniors who can’t drive themselves.

Hands-Free Driving: Google’s New Driverless Car

One of the biggest tech stories of the year is definitely the unveiling of Google’s driverless car. The general story is this: Google is manufacturing some completely self-driving cars – no steering wheels, accelerator pedals, or brake pedals. But the details are pretty fascinating, and even more interesting are the broad societal implications. Read More …

Make Remote Monitoring Simple

Evermind MonitorsEvermind has a cool idea and product that in my mind can make remote monitoring simple and less intrusive, tracking deviations from everyday activities such as making coffee, watching TV, or turning on lamps.

Details are still scarce since the company has just secured funding to commercialize the product, but I see real potential as long as the cost of the device and monitoring service is reasonable. Watch the video below for more information or read the funding announcement at MEDCITY News. Read More …

101 MiniTrends in Health Care

Watch for Trends Ahead

This image is from MiniTrends, a book by John Vanston that I strongly endorse. I’ve known John for years and did consulting work for his company, Technology Futures. His book inspired my Modern Health Talk vision. (Click image to see book. Go to end to hear about the MiniTrends conference.)

“What the Hell is happening to health care?”

“And is it an Opportunity or a Threat?”

Insights by Wayne Caswell, Founder of Modern Health Talk.

An awful lot has changed in just the last few years and even more will change in the near future, with the aim of reducing (or at least containing) our health care costs. What’s behind these MiniTrends, and what is their implication for providers, payers and consumers? That’s the $1.5 trillion question. Here I talk about many, many MiniTrends–surely you can find 101 of them if you look! 

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” – Charles Darwin

That quote is important, because 429 of the original Fortune 500 companies [1955] are no longer in business today. That’s a scary thought for those sitting at the top of the healthcare mountain, because they know they must adapt to the megatrend of health reform and Obamacare (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) or die. And they are looking down with fear at the hungry competitors who are already exploiting the many related minitrends, because for them these are times of great opportunity.

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Apple to enter Home Automation market?

Apple, Home Automation & Smart Aging by Stealth

guest article by Joseph F Coughlin, Director of the MIT AgeLab

Smart HouseThe word on the street is that Apple is set to announce a major foray into home automation next week at its annual developers conference. As noted by other analysts, Apple’s move into the home coincides with similar investments made by companies such as Intel, Cisco, Samsung, Microsoft, and, of course, Google. Regardless of which company ultimately presents the best value proposition to consumers, the resulting smart home of the future is likely to be the house you live in today, with a significant IQ boost thanks to a wide range of accessories and wireless devices that are all part of what is now widely known as the Internet of Things. Read More …