Pillo, a startup in Boston’s Fort Point district, has developed a robot that sits on your grandparents’ kitchen counter, greets them in the morning, and gently reminds them to take their pills.
Another early-stage local company called Eversound sells wireless headphones whose volume controls let seniors with varying levels of hearing loss exercise or watch movies together.
And a third Boston startup, Rendever, has created immersive software that can transport housebound elders to the African Serengeti and the Incan citadel of Machu Picchu, with the help of virtual reality goggles.
These “age-tech” pioneers are part of a Massachusetts cluster of entrepreneurs who are applying the state’s potent mix of brainpower and technology prowess to an ancient problem: easing the burdens of growing old. Government and business leaders believe the emerging industry could have huge potential for the state’s economy, and for aging populations around the world.
Last week, a consortium that includes General Electric and the MIT AgeLab, working with Governor Charlie Baker’s Administration, unveiled a global innovation challenge seeking to generate new ideas for technology-assisted aging.
Baker outlined the “big opportunity” in an appearance before AARP’s annual volunteer meeting in Framingham last spring. Noting that Massachusetts has long been a high-tech and biotech center and a hub of universities and hospitals, Baker called for making the state the “Silicon Valley” for emerging products and services that reduce social isolation and loneliness for the older population.
“We need to think differently about aging,” he said.