Apple and IBM are partnering with Japan Post to provide 1,000 seniors with free iPads for six months beginning in October. If successful, the program could increase senior users to five million by the year 2020. iPads will be equipped with IBM-produced apps specifically geared to the elderly such as reminding seniors to take their medication, help them keep in touch with family, and assist them in finding local senior services in an effort to improve the quality of life for Japan’s senior population.
Apple CEO Tim Cook, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty and Japan Post CEO Taizo Nishimuro (who is almost 80 years old) announced the program in New York on Thursday. Japan’s elderly make up 25 percent of entire population. That’s about 33 million seniors. That number is projected to grow to 40 percent over the next 4 decades.
Japan Post Group, a government-owned postal service, bank, and insurer will train 400,000 of its employees on the iPads. They in turn will deliver the devices to the elderly. Currently, Japan Post service workers make elderly wellness checks and reports back to the senior’s family. This “Watch Over” program costs families $1,000 yen, or $8, monthly. It is not known if the iPad program will increase those costs.
“This initiative has potential for global impact, as many countries face the challenge of supporting an aging population, and we are honored to be involved in supporting Japan’s senior citizens and helping enrich their lives,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a press release.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the proportion of people aged over 60 years is growing faster than any other age group in almost every country. Between 2000 and 2050, the proportion of the world's population over 60 years will double from about 11% to 22%. The number of people aged 60 years and over is expected to increase from 605 million to 2 billion over the same period.
Mashable gave us a peek at the iPad interface which includes large buttons, an emergency call capability, and other senior-friendly and senior-empowering features.
Image: Mashable, Lance Ulanoff
The proposed iPad program certainly can’t take the place of a one-on-one in-home senior care, but for millions of independent older people, especially with those whose families distance care, I think it will be a great care supplement.