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We Live in an Agile Age, Let’s Make the Most of It!

Last month I joined a packed house of ecstatic ravers under the gilded dome of London's Royal Albert Hall, to celebrate the BBC's inaugural 'Ibiza Proms'.

From the opening notes of Fatboy Slims' 'Right Here Right Now', we knew this was going to be a night to remember, with people of all ages sharing the same joyous, almost spiritual, creative experience.

Could this be a sign of our times, where we get to enjoy fresh, reimagined expressions of pop culture (both live and virtual) that attract more diverse audiences and stimulate spirited, less patronizing, interaction between adults of all ages?

Wishful thinking perhaps, but worth researching potential benefits for health and wellbeing – made possible and effectively quantified employing innovative new technologies.

This is a theme we have been exploring at Creative Skills for Life in collaboration with Dr Alexander Peine, a Professor of Science, Technology and Innovation Studies at Utrecht University, as part of an ongoing EU consultation process, which aims to bring to life the European Silver Economy strategy on age-friendly homes and independent living.

Alexander's expertise covers topics like Smart Homes, TeleCare Environments and Assisted Living. He also leads a large pan-European commitment on "Active Ageing and the Built Environment" and convenes a focus area on the same topic for the European Construction Technology Platform. (You can read more about Alexander's field of 'Gerontechnology' here.)

In this context, Andrew is particularly interested in how the creative application of new technologies can best improve quality of life, social engagement and evolving needs of older people.

As we reach the tipping point in the digital revolution, Alexander and I believe that now is the time for innovators of enabling health technologies to re-imagine older adults as active co-creators of their own digital environments, thereby enriching their homes and maintaining healthier and more creative agile lives

Home Smart Homes – Facilitating Agile Ageing

We are living in the fast lane of a more responsive world, defined by technologists who favour individuals and interactions over processes and tools.

Our objective is to tap into this world to promote the concept of "Agile Ageing™", focusing on creativity, learning and social engagement as a means of empowerment, whilst simultaneously defining a new criteria for evaluating the social and health impact of digital healthcare innovation; at home and in the community.

As cities become ever smarter our homes command a special place. It is both a physical structure that provides us with shelter, comfort and accessibility, and an imagined emotional space that constitutes our identity and connects us with our social networks.

But, in 2015, most homes are ill-equipped to help deal with the onset of age-related conditions, or provide the resources necessary to maintain satisfying relationships; and they can throw up physical barriers that we find increasingly difficult to deal with. Our challenge, and indeed opportunity, is to look beyond the here and now, to consider how we might convert our homes into truly interactive, creative and socially engaging places that support our needs during good times, and especially when we are in need of extra tender loving care.

Making use of the latest developments in health monitoring, robotics, augmented realities, sensors, wearables, gaming, big data, and other IoT devices and systems, we should aspire to navigate our golden years on our own terms, seizing new opportunities for learning, social engagement and even discovery.

Have Your Say

Formulated in an EU White Paper on Age-friendly Home Renovations and Construction, we have been staging debates, involving expert stakeholders and opinion formers in Brussels, London and Edinburgh.

Alexander and I are looking forward to further discussions during the upcoming Polish Silver Economy Congress (6 October: Warsaw) and ICT 2015 Innovate Connect Transform (20-22 October: Lisbon). Later this month I will be mediating at the AAL 15 Forum (22-24 September: Ghent), an important annual event which aims to speed up the process of translating great research into commercially viable products and services designed to improve quality of life for older citizens across Europe.

Output from these consultations will inform policy recommendations at EU level, so if you have the chance to attend one, please do. Alternatively, feel free to contact me via info@creativeskillsforlife.com.

In an era of Agile Ageing, Healthtech represents an exciting new frontier for entrepreneurs and startups. Early movers are in a position to carve their place in a potentially lucrative market. Traditional health and adjacent business will be affected, shaped and in some case redefined. We all stand to win from this revolution which could make ageing a lot more fun than it is for many older adults today. The future really is in our hands.

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Stay up to date on all future events by following @CSLtweets and @AlexanderPeine.