The latest technology isn’t always easy to use for people of a certain age.
If that line sounds familiar it’s because it comes from a year-old Saturday Night Live sketch that imagined Amazon partnering with AARP to develop a silver Echo speaker specifically for the elderly. Flash forward to now, and CNBC reported that Amazon has been talking to AARP since 2015 to discuss a potential collaboration, share research, or see if it likes the idea of designing products for older people.
Those of you who need more evidence can look to Amazon executive Babak Parviz, who CNBC said spoke last month at an event hosted by health marketing firm Klick Health. He revealed Amazon has been developing something that seems to be related to older people: “Something…we’ve been building for some period of time and we deeply care about… relates to what happens to older people.”
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He added, “We have looked at the older population in the context of health… and we know this group has a lot of issues and unmet needs.” Parviz, who has a background in medical technology and runs a skunkworks lab at Amazon, further described how, despite the “exponential growth” in connected devices, elderly people are still getting “lonelier and lonelier.” He believes we need “radical solutions”.
Parviz’s lab is focused on health applications for Amazon Alexa, as well as electronic medical records and telemedicine. He joined the online retail giant in 2014 from Google X, another skunkworks-like group that develops futuristic projects. Parviz is perhaps best known for creating Google Glass. To be clear, Parviz hasn’t confirmed CNBC’s reporting. But the AARP has released a rather interesting statement.
“As part of our mission to be everyday innovators in aging, we meet regularly with other innovators that may be able to improve the lives of older Americans,” the AARP said. Could one of these innovators be Amazon? We’ll keep you posted.