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Whether we like it or not, the future is shifting fast toward artificial intelligence and virtual reality. These new technologies are often designed to entertain and convenience us, but they also have great potential in assisting older adults in the areas of health, well-being and caregiving — as well as helping the broader public understand what it's like to age.

Where artificial intelligence (AI) refers to machines performing tasks that normally require human intelligence (medical technology, robotics, voice-first technology), virtual reality (VR) is computer-generated simulations of 3D images or environments with equipment such as helmets or goggles with screens. 
For example:

Rendever is a type of VR for older adults that uses algorithms to create 360 panoramic photos. Users can connect with loved ones by capturing family events on cameras and then creating virtual reality experiences. 

ElliQ is a home assistant designed to not only respond to requests, but to connect with the user through body language and mimicked behavior. 

WiGait is a device that helps track movements of older adults to predict falls or cognitive decline. Changes in a person's speed or gait can be early indicators of health or cognition issues.

Aira is a wireless and wearable technology for people with vision loss. Using augmented reality, it connects people who are blind or low vision to a trained agent who helps the person navigate and complete tasks. 


By the numbers:

38 percent of companies were using AI in 2017
62 percent of companies are expected to use AI in 2018 
99 percent of the time, IBM's AI device Watson recommended the same cancer treatment as oncologists
30 percent of the time, Watson found a treatment option that the human doctors missed
$15 dollars is the low-end price for a VR headset such as Google Cardboard 
$600 to 800 dollars is the high-end price for a VR headset like Oculus Rift       
75 percent of the older adults in a study said smart speakers Amazon Echo/Alexa helped them feel more connected to family, friends and the rest of the community 

Watch this:
Embodied Labs, a Chicago-based start-up created by four millennials, created the Alfred Lab app, which gives users a look at a day in the life of "Alfred," a 74-year-old African American man with high frequency hearing loss and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). See students using the app in the video below:
We Are Alfred - Embodied Labs
"The greatest danger of artificial intelligence is that
people conclude too early that they understand it."
         —Eliezer Yudkowsky
                A leading proponent of "friendly" artificial intelligence
What you said:
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