The first official day of Gnomedex is nearing its end and it has been a worth while day. The opening keynote was interesting, but too political for my tastes. The theme was “open government,” presented by Robert Steele, but it was very heavy handed and spent a lot of time picking apart political and corporate leaders. Yes, they probably deserve it; No, that’s not what I paid to participate in at Gnomedex. The day got better after that. Guy Kawasaki discussed product/company evangelism and was entertaining and informative as usual. A very interesing presentation was given by Ronni Bennett about the need for technology to address the needs of the aging members of our society. The baby boomers are growing up and there are many uses for technology in that age group that are not manifesting themselves currently. Specifically, creating the ability for monitoring health over the Internet is not out of reach and would be a huge benefit to those that are aging.
A key theme was that the form factors and user interfaces of technology products and software do not cater to the elderly in the way that they should. To demonstrate this, volunteers from the audience were given glasses to better simulate the reduced light that the eyes of the elderly are able to absorb, and gloves to simulate reduced motor skills and touch sensitivity. The volunteers had a very difficult time just navigating and reading websites using standard laptops.
It was a well thought out presentation that definitely pointed to a gap in the tech industry (and an opportunity for geeks who can fill those gaps). My favorite quote of the presentation: “In your life, you will be old for much longer than you are young.”