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Apply Athletic Performance Technology to Seniors

The last few years has seen a huge amount of development go into high-tech wearable materials, designed to provide a myriad of benefits to high-performance athletes, many of these same benefits could also benefit the elderly and help them stay active

Photo of Todd Sotheren
25 15

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Wearable performance technology has come a long way in the last few years. Originally designed to benefit athletes, many of these myriad benefits could also apply to the needs of the elderly, i.e.:

- Core Support = as anyone who is relatively fit and active will tell you, your core strength is the foundation upon which your broader fitness builds. The compression applied by modern active wear promotes posture and supports movement.

- Temperature Control = as you begin activity, the materials are designed to initially retain heat, improving circulation and creating an 'energy feedback' effect.
Once a heat threshold is crossed, the materials begin to shed temperature with equal efficiency, keeping the wearer more comfortable for longer.

- Movement = The effect upon freedom of movement is not merely passive - the natural buoyancy and aerodynamics of the materials actively assist in any number of activities.

- Form = I would imagine that many elderly people, particularly the overweight, are at least in part discouraged from an active lifestyle by their body image. Given that these kinds of compression active-wear are essentially a wonder-bra for your whole body by default, this in itself may not be an insignificant factor.

Combine all of this with smart features, such as heart monitors and other sensors that are already beginning to show up in this product category and you could end up with a 'Smart-Skin' of sorts.

How might your idea scale and spread to reach as many people as possible?

It has been interesting to note over the last few years the progressive blending of active wear with our regular wardrobe [ at least it is highly noticeable in my culture in Australia ]. It seems that active wear makes for an attractive and highly practical uniform for much of the day's tasks.

I can easily envision a near-future where it becomes very mainstream fashion indeed to be wearing active wear throughout much of the day.

How might your idea attract and involve partners from health care, business, government, nonprofit or other sectors?

The commercial opportunities to existing vendors of these kinds of products are glaringly obvious. Indeed, many may be little more than a sub-branding tweak away from a hugely lucrative new stream.

How might you design an early experiment or prototype to further develop your idea?

It is important to point out that I am not involved in the design of these kinds of products and that the category is well populated with highly capable high-tech garment designers.

Having said that, it may require little to no modification of existing products in order to trial them with the elderly. Ideally this would indeed be the case.

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Photo of Todd
Team

Oh my gosh - here it is, the exact thing we're talking about: http://mashable.com/2013/05/29/honda-walking-assist-device-japan/

Photo of Nick
Team

Have you seen robotic legs? http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/Apr/01/robotic-legs-give-hope-to-the-paralyzed/

Photo of Todd
Team

Far out - looks like something from Elysium !

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