Amazon's vice president of special projects Babak Parviz has long been interested in designing technologies and other services for the growing aging population.
So he went on a cross-country bus tour to learn all about it.
In spring 2016, Parviz got an invitation from well-known geriatric medicine expert and author Bill Thomas to hop on a multi-city bus tour. Thomas has been working on-and-off as a consultant for Amazon, said two people familiar with the situation. Other folks on Parviz's team were also invited to join.
The bus ride was positioned as an opportunity for Parviz and his colleagues to learn more about opportunities in aging from a broad range of experts. Thomas had originally organized it to promote his latest book about getting a "second wind" of health and enthusiasm later in life.
Amazon has good reason to listen up. More than one million Americans reside in assisted-living facilities today, a number that is expected to double by 2030. And many Amazon users are getting older, sicker and wealthier, making health and senior care an ideal target for the company.
The trend towards so-called "aging in place," which gives older Americans an opportunity to remain at home, also provides opportunities to develop monitoring gadgets and sensors, which could tie in with Amazon's Echo line of products and Alexa personal assistant.
When asked about the bus tour, an Amazon spokesperson said, "At Amazon, we obsess over all of our customers. We frequently seek diverse outside perspectives to help us meet and exceed customer needs." Bill Thomas did not respond to requests for comment.