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Washington Post Live: Booming Tech

Baby boomers are the new darlings of the tech world. They represent a quarter of the country’s population and have the greatest purchasing power. Consumers in their 50s and 60s are rekindling relationships and launching new businesses online, managing their health and fitness with the latest apps and driving the first connected cars.

Technology experts in Boston talk on how a generation born before the Internet is shaping its future. Watch video highlights from the May 8 forum below.

MIT AgeLab director Joseph Coughlin

FabOverFifty.com founder Geri Brin

Fitbit's head of Boston office William Crawford

Harvard University's chief digital officer Perry Hewitt and recent alum Zachary Hamed

Institute for Healthcare Improvement senior fellow Don Berwick

Managing director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship Bill Aulet

Satirist P.J. O'Rourke

Co-founder of StarVest Partners Jeanne Sullivan

U.S. president for Kinematix Joseph Ternullo

New England Quality Care Alliance chief medical officer Michael Cantor

MC10 director of medical market development Nirav Sheth

For boomers, the line between patient and consumer could blur

This year, 2014, the youngest baby boomer turns 50. A demographic with the largest purchasing power, they will likely pour more money into health and fitness devices, apps and wearable tech in hopes of living longer. Our next panel is called Tech for Life.

“Body movement is a huge, untapped source of information about health and wellness,” says Kinematix’s Joseph Ternullo. Ternullo, the U.S. president of Kinematix — a tech company which develops health and fitness products that evaluate body position and movement. Before joining the company, he served as associate director of Partners HealthCare’s Center for Connected Health.

Tech marketing has failed this segment of the market, adds Nirav Sheth, director of medical market development at MC10 — a company creating wearable electronics for athletes, infants, the elderly and everyone else. In five years, according to Sheth, the line between patient and consumer will blur, and individuals will expect to receive health care with more personal choice and control. ”As we age, our definition of health changes,” Sheth said.

Michael Cantor, a geriatrician and attorney, says technology provides opportunities to reduce cost and improve quality in health care. Cantor is the chief medical officer for New England Quality Care Alliance, the network of physicians for Tufts Medical Center.

Boomers want to live longer and better, says MIT AgeLab's Joseph Coughlin

“Baby boomers are the largest … and the loudest generation,” says MIT AgeLab director Joseph Coughlin. Coughlin leads a team researching how the convergence of technology, social trends, consumer behavior and an aging population is driving innovation. His blog is called Disruptive Demographics.

“Baby boomers expect a product, a pill, a service, a policy to make us live longer and better,” Coughlin, a boomer himself, tells the audience. His advice to the tech industry? Build devices that weave together technology, emotion, design, effectiveness and fun.

“It’s not about how old I am but about how vital I can be,” he says. “We’re not young, but we are youthful.” Coughlin emphasizes that the boomer generation uses tech not just for convenience, but because it’s fun, fashionable and allows them to connect with their friends, children and grandchildren.

Baby boomers, the new darlings of the tech world?

Thank you so much for joining our Booming Tech live stream. We’re in Boston this morning at the first of a Washington Post Live two-part series looking at how baby boomers are adopting technologies.

Born in the wake of World War II, baby boomers make up nearly 26 percent of the U.S. population. Today we look at how this generation born before the Internet is shaping its future – in business, health and life.

Join the conversation on Twitter and tweet the panelists questions with the hashtag #techboomers.

Join the conversation May 8. Tweet #techboomers

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