Saturday, July 24, 2010


    Much talk today is about easy and efficient access to information and services.      Innovation is centered around getting you what you need as efficiently as possible, and when and where you want it.    The economy is driven by it.  Those who find new and better ways are rewarded for finding them.

    Access does not necessarily mean providing the services, just making access easier.

    In technology the new Apple iPad is an example.     The time and effort to get information and services is slashed.

    Earlier, EMail pointed the way.   Email slashes mail delay.    EMail also does away with the annoyances of telephone queues and interruptions, and allows us to address needs more efficiently.   Your communications are there when you want them.

    Access  is not all about computers, though.   Years ago, there was a trend towards pretty shopping malls.    Nowadays it is towards ugly strip malls.   Why?  You drive right up to where you need to go and get done with it.   Or you go to a single "box" store that has nearly anything.    Also more efficient than a mall.   Many more stores have restrooms right there, now often easily accessible at the front.  More have a place to grab a bite to eat.    More stores deliver, often with online ordering, even delivering groceries.

    This is a change in culture from the past, good or bad.     But it gives a social insight into what computing, and life, is nowadays, for many, especially busy younger people.  Yet it could not be more beneficial for us seniors, too, as our mobility decreases.

    Skype brings your grandchildren to you at home.   The smartphone brings access wherever you are.    With a netbook you can connect to internet even from fast foods like McDonald's.

    Development is not done, though.    The new iPad only accesses information best when another computer is used to channel information to it.    Apple pretty much controlled that process, and clones of the iPhone lacked that capability.   Of course, it should not be necessary at all to depend on a another computer to use the iPad.   To improve access that dependence must disappear.   That will happen.   (As I was writing this, a program called doubleTwist appeared, a step in the right direction.)

    Now that competitors have gotten over the initial shock of iPad innovation, there is much stirring to compete with cheaper and even more advanced alternatives, using Google's open and free Android operating system, already in wide use on smartphones.    We will see tablet or book-like products everywhere at $200 and used as matter-of-factly as books, which they really are.   EBooks are more accessible than hardcovers and paperbacks, and now outsell them on Amazon.
    Years ago, computing was all about calculating or spreadsheets or word processing.   The direction has completely changed.    Now it is all about access and easing your everyday life.
    All this is a boon for seniors who stand to benefit if they can only see what is newly available to them, and its merits, and adapt to new the improvements.    All we need to do is learn how to use the new tech.   Successful businesses of the future will be those who bring their senior services closer to us than ever thought possible before.

    In retirement communities, too, the future is all about bringing access to services closer to residents, or residents closer to services.