Greg Yap is a venture capitalist looking for the next big thing in digital health. At age 45, he's also the father of young kids and the son of an aging mother, who lives nearby in an independent living facility.
On days he can't visit his mom and doesn't hear from her, he still wants to know how she's doing. So he's combining his personal concerns as a son with his job as an investor and experimenting with new technologies that can give him some peace of mind without invading his mother's privacy.
Beyond mainstream devices like Amazon's Echo, which can set medication reminders, Apple's smartwatch with fall detection and the Nest thermostat's motion sensors, Yap has been trying new products specifically designed to monitor aging parents. One example is Silver Mother, which incorporates sensors on pill boxes, front doors and mattresses for remote monitoring of health, safety and sleep.
"I've been trying a few sensors out to approximate this monitoring function," Yap said. "The technology is not yet idiot-proof though."
There's a demographic reason why Yap sees as a big opportunity. More Americans in their 60s and 70s are opting to live independently rather than in assisted living as part of the "aging in place" trend. Still, they're more likely to have chronic illnesses to manage and are at higher risk of a serious medical event, like a fall, heart attack or stroke.