LAS VEGAS (TheStreet) -- In a world where the audience doesn't always want to keep up with technology, 10 tech startups dared to pitch smartphone apps, online tools and personal gadgets to a mostly senior-citizen crowd on Friday for AARP's Life@50+ Expo.The contenders got five minutes to pitch investors and venture capitalists in the morning. In the afternoon, the second annual Health Innovation @50+LivePitch session welcomed any AARP member who wandered in to sit, listen and even vote. There were two categories for winners -- one chosen by investors, the other by the seniors. LabDoor, which assigns letter grades to drugstore products by simply scanning the UPC with a smartphone camera, won both the judges round and the consumer vote. Of course, the event's deeper purpose was to encourage new answers to old problems for people over 50, said Jody Holtzman, AARP's senior vice president of Thought Leadership. With recent research like one report from Pew Research Center that only 11% of those over 65 have a smartphone, AARP has a duty to make sure seniors are educated about technology and appropriate products are being made. "It's not just accepting whatever their (startups) claims are," Holtzman said. "The judges have eight minutes to probe, respond and ask questions and make recommendations. At the same time, it's a supportive environment with judges saying 'Here's what you need to do.' We're trying to encourage these entrepreneurs. We don't want to stop them before they have gotten some traction."
During the five minute pitch to consumers, the audience could ask questions. Last year, contestant QMedic showed off a personal emergency system in the form of a bulky watch. "And this woman in the audience said, 'If you want me to wear that, you'd better glam it up.' Something as basic as that. Those entrepreneurs are so focused on making sure it works that the human factor isn't as obvious. Of course, as soon as the woman said that, it was like, 'Oh, of course,'" Holtzman said. (QMedic apparently heeded the advice. On its site, it is touting a more delicate version in pink and slate that is "coming soon.")
|Smart Pill Bottle -- This patented pill bottle from AdhereTech will text or call phones if a dosage is missed. It also glows blue when it's time and flashes red when the dosage is missed.|
A Smarter Sole: Veristride is working on a way to let your own feet tell you how to improve walking abnormalities. The company puts gyroscopes, accelerometers and force sensors into shoe insoles. This wellness insole tracks all movement and sends details to a smartphone app. The app evaluates movement and offers instant feedback and tips to correct walking.
|Lively communicator -- Lively teamed sensors with communication to inform family and medical care if something is amiss. The sensors are attached to everyday objects, like pill bottles, the refrigerator and doors and track motion in the house.|
Senior checkups: Instead of talking around an adult living in a senior living community or nursing facility, Caremerge's app aims to increases communication between the senior adult and friends, family members and nursing staff. The app helps everyone manage schedules, activities and health updates. Email Tamara Chuang at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @gadgetress.